Posts Tagged “jobs for seniors”

13:40:PM 17/10/2014
Virginia Trioli



Virginia Trioli.

Virginia Trioli.




It was such a lovely card – how thoughtful of a viewer to send me a note! Flowers and fruit adorned the front, and the cheeriest of greetings kicked off the epistle – “Hi Virginia!” Then it went on, travelling down a one way-road I’d been booked on many, many times before.



“I watch you every morning … and felt I had to write as I feel you are definately (sic) in need of a makeover.



“First, please get your hair cut short and get rid of those straggly bits around your neck, and maybe a few highlights!!!



“Next, the glasses – ugh! Go for LIGHT coloured frames as with your dark eyes black makes you look ‘owlish’. You will be very pleasantly surprised!



“Next, the clothes: get rid of blacks and browns, very ageing. Take notice of the other newsreaders (female) – light and bright is the go! Dare I say, did you obtain your clothes from charity shops?



“This letter is NOT meant to insult you but so that you look 40 not 60.



“Good luck, looking forward to seeing a NEW VIRGINIA.”



It says a great deal about the nature of my correspondence as a woman on television that this letter really was nothing out of the ordinary. I’ve received many such missives and these notes are read and discarded, along with the anti-Semitic rants written in block capitals and UNDERLINING, the long tracts alleging international banking conspiracies, and the regular Herald Sun frothings by Andrew Bolt.



As I have in the past, I shared it on Twitter and thought nothing more. When you’re half Italian, a Leo and raised by a strong mother, it takes a hell of a lot to shake your sense of self. I also happen to know exactly what’s in my wardrobe. And the shameful amount of money I’ve spent on it. Enough said.



But that wasn’t the end of the matter: it went, as they say, viral, and all day long the howls of outrage echoed across Twitter and the wider media. It was only after the matter started to be reported in the US that I realised what kind of nerve this had touched. Then The Atlanta Journal Constitution made this mild remark: “Working in the Australian media industry is particularly tough on women, who are more often judged on their fashion sense than their news reporting capabilities.”



That’s how they see us? A backward nation of boors intent on making women in television a bunch of dolly birds? It didn’t, and doesn’t, square with the substantial number of women I know and admire who work in TV. But the Journal had hit on a key difference between the nations, and my letter-writer had unwittingly done the same.



Because the point of this letter was not fashion, or style, or even attractiveness – it was the problem of age, and that is the greatest failing of all: my critic wrote so that I might “look 40 not 60”.



But one day, with luck, I will be 60, and if I don’t fall victim to vanity and cosmetic surgery, I might even look 60. I will be nowhere near retirement and nowhere near ready to give up work. Nonetheless I will still hope to have a meaningful career, perhaps still on TV.



Is that an impossible aspiration in Australia, when looking 60 is such an abhorrent thought?



The American experience cuts a great contrast to us, where women such as Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer and Christiane Amanpour have enjoyed long and illustrious careers in the public eye even as they age. But the mere appearance of ageing in a woman on Australian TV is enough to have most executives yanking her off air and replacing her with someone younger.



This is going to be an interesting challenge. Will a craggy-faced women be as acceptable to you on the box as, say, a craggy-faced Barrie Cassidy is? (Said with love, Barrie.) I am lucky to be part of a formidable generation of women journalists, at the ABC and the commercial stations, who are all going to become wiser, better and older in front of your eyes: you OK with that?


Age Discrimination Starts Early!

These Strategies Can Help.

numbersWhile finishing her MBA at a top tier university, Sarah was enthusiastically recruited by a large company. She accepted their offer to join the marketing department. Once there, she connected with a powerful mentor who helped her snag plum assignments. For several years Sarah was the most junior professional in her group, and she enjoyed being treated like a young star.

After a few years, the growing company made a wave of new hires and Sarah began to feel neglected. She said she was stuck with routine workwhile the interesting new projects went to her younger colleagues.

Sarah was asked to supervise the internship program, but didn’t enjoy the work. She said the interns didn’t have the right work ethic and were obsessed by technology. One day as she entered the kitchen, she heard them making fun of her for being clueless about the power of social media.

When Sarah came to me for coaching, she complained that she was past her career peak. She felt like she was cut off from the company’s high potential challenges and might be too old to compete for another good job elsewhere. Sarah was 34 at the time.

Sarah felt she was the victim of age discrimination and to some degree her concerns were well founded. Ageism is rampant in the workplace and can be hard to fight. And even 30-something careerists like Sarah can find themselves sidelined by employers seeking fresh talent.

Sarah found ways to demonstrate her energy, talent and enthusiasm, and soon worked her way out of her slump. One thing that helped her was finding examples of older professionals whose age did need not seem to limit their success. She noticed that while some in her circle were dissed for being out of date, others seemed timeless despite their years.

If you’re facing a subtle age bias, a starting point for getting past it is to understand the negative stereotypes on which it’s based. Then make it clear that the stereotypes don’t fit you. Consider these strategies for minimizing the burden of ageism:

  •  Be tech-savvy. You don’t have to enjoy Skyping, sharing on Instagram or building a Twitter community. But if those are the ways that your colleagues or customers communicate, you absolutely must know how to join in. If you want to stay in the game, keep up with the technology. Take classes or find help, buy the devices, and do whatever it takes to keep your skills current.   And when you don’t understand the latest developments, avoid the temptation to indulge in a Luddite rant. Express an interest, ask for assistance and get on board.
  • Look and act fit. Some employers and younger workers believe that their older colleagues may have physical limitations that will prevent them from performing their fair share of the work. And your boss or clients won’t offer you new challenges if they think you are about to have a heart attack. If you want to maximize your career options, it is vital not only that you stay healthy but also that you look healthy and you exude energy.
  • Talk healthy. Most of us have health issues from time to time, but we can manage the way they impact us in the workplace. Beware of sabotaging yourself by talking too much about your symptoms or crises. If you endlessly discuss your health challenges, not only will you be boring, but people may start to think of you as frail and over the hill. Talk about the great hike you took last weekend, instead of how sore you felt on Monday morning.
  • Be stylish. Looking shabby may seem cool when you’re 27. But the older you get, the more important it is to look polished and up to date. If your clothes, hairdo or glasses seem out of style, you may seem like you are past your prime. That doesn’t mean you should dress like a kid, but you should aim for a look that feels current.
  • Don’t bring up your age. If you are older – or younger – than the people you work with, it is very tempting to keep mentioning that fact.   But if you can refrain from alluding to the age difference, there is a good chance that other people will forget about it.
  • Build a varied network. If you are accustomed to hanging out with friends of all ages, you are more likely to blend easily into a group of younger or older people. If you don’t allow age to be a barrier in your social life, you will be more comfortable talking and keeping up with different age groups at work.
  • Listen to your colleagues. A great starting point for building strong relationships at work is to genuinely listen to what other people have to say. If you’re part of the older set, show an interest in what younger folks say and learn from their perspective.

If you put aside your own prejudices about age and look for opportunities to work on projects with people of all generations, you’ll become more skillful at avoiding the burden of age bias.

More incentives for first movers on higher rehiring age

THE Government has accepted the recommendations of the Tripartite Committee on Employability of Older Workers to raise the age ceiling for the re-employment of older workers to 67 from 65. This will be done through promotional means supported by incentives.

The idea is to give companies more time to prepare for this before legislation kicks in. The legislation will be introduced at an “appropriate time”.

The PAP Seniors’ Group (PAP.SG) welcomes this move, which is a progressive step and will help to boost the employment prospects of our older workers.

The Government has moved to bolster the position of our seniors in health care and housing through its recent policy changes, and it makes great sense now to focus on employment. This is an important way of ensuring that our seniors remain independent and can continue to live with dignity. To be able to work for as long as they wish to and earn a steady stream of income is greatly empowering for our seniors.

Raising the rehiring age to 67 is not just good for the individual. It also makes great economic sense. It is projected that by 2030, there will be 900,000 people aged 65 years and above. If our total fertility rate remains at 1.2 and we have no immigration, there will be only 2.1 working age citizens for every citizen above the age of 65 in 2030. If we do not extend the productive working age of our older workers, our growth will be affected.

Companies, too, benefit, and much has been said about the value of older workers. In a survey conducted last year by the Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices, the majority of the companies which responded agreed that mature workers benefited them through lower turnover rates and reduced absenteeism.

While promotional means is a practical solution to give employers more time to adjust, I do hope that the Government will not take too long to legislate the extension.

I have no doubt that the unions will be able to push through the extension among unionised companies, but the worry will be the non-unionised companies, where this may not be a priority. To some extent, the proposed incentives may help and are a good move, as most employers have cited costs as a concern, but the question is whether this will provide enough push for companies to voluntarily raise the ceiling.

I also hope that incentives will not have the unintended consequence of devaluing the contribution of older workers, particularly for those who would be re-employed in any case because their services are needed.

Nevertheless, to really ensure that the incentives have an impact, the Government could consider introducing a sliding scale of benefits, whereby those who come on board earlier are given more incentives compared to those who respond later. In this way, hopefully, most companies would be encouraged to raise the rehiring age ceiling faster.

According to employers, they need more time to redesign jobs and work processes and to retrain older workers. I find this surprising as such measures should already have been put in place when the rehiring age ceiling was raised to 65. There cannot be that many major changes that have to be made for the working age to be increased by just an additional two years.

Also, employers’ concern about medical costs should, to a large extent, be addressed by MediShield Life that comes into effect next year, as a larger portion of hospitalisation charges will be covered. Hence, prudent employers may want to rationalise their own medical benefits scheme with MediShield Life, to address this concern.

The training of older workers is another major area in ensuring that their skills remain relevant and useful to companies’ needs. There are now already available training grants and programmes that companies can tap to prepare their older workers, so that lack of skills should not be an excuse. The tripartite partners could also do a lot more to highlight positive examples of enlightened companies that have voluntarily raised the rehiring ceiling, even without any incentives.

One example is Prima. A few years ago, I officiated at an event where the company gave out long service awards to its employees. There were employees who had served the company for more than 40 years and were in their 70s. It felt really good to see a company that values its workers so much.

In August last year, Prima signed a collective agreement with the Food, Drinks and Allied Workers’ Union to offer 65-year-old workers, with satisfactory performance and good health, employment contracts until age 68.

I urge more companies to emulate Prima’s example and waste no time in raising the rehiring age ceiling of their older workers. I am heartened, too, by the public sector’s positive response to the recommendation, as its hiring practices have a deep impact on the private sector.

Finally, we need to address the concerns of older workers who have lost their jobs and are trying to get back into the workforce, which the recommendation will not cover. Among their biggest hurdles in seeking employment are hiring practices that are still biased against them. Employers should be prepared to give them a chance, rather than turn them away just because of their age.

I would like to suggest that companies hiring unemployed older workers be given incentives too, and not only those who raise the rehiring age ceiling of existing workers. It would also be useful to conduct a study on the hiring practices of companies to ascertain whether this bias really exists or whether there are other valid factors involved that affect the hiring of older workers. In this way, more effective strategies could be developed to boost older workers’ chances of securing a job.

The tripartite partners have made a good move. The challenge now is to make sure that the recommendation works.

The writer is the Speaker of Parliament and chairman of the PAP Seniors’ Group.

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A new generation of retirees is heading back to work. Here’s some advice on how to snag one of those encore jobs

Encore! Encore! One more time.

That’s what many retired Canadians want to do: Go back to work, try something new, perhaps with fewer hours and less pay, but find a way to keep active, stay engaged and get paid for it.

Longevity is rising, we’re healthier and so the traditional notion of retirement has faded. Some want to work because they have to and others because they want to.

But if our needs are changing, our employers aren’t keeping up with the times, says Adina Lebo, chair of the downtown Toronto chapter of the Canadian Association of Retired People (CARP). Attitudes in the workplace are geared to forcing older workers out of full-time work and few employers have mechanisms to offer a transition to part-time work.

“The workforce is built to push people out at 65,” says Lebo, who joined CARP four years ago after a 30-year career in the film and TV industry. “While people are looking for a continuation of their career, or a way to apply their skills in a new area, the doors are often closed.”

CARP sponsored a job fair in Toronto last year to link employers with 50+ candidates. There was plenty of interest from companies with franchising and sales opportunities. The former requires an investment on your part and the latter uses your networks to sell products or services.

“There’s no ageism in sales,” says Lebo. “It’s on commission, so there’s no risk to the employer. They use you and your community to sell, so that was wide open.”

There are jobs out there for older works, but competition is stiff. For many, the first step is dusting off their resumes and polishing rusty interview skills.

Marie Bountrogianni, a former Ontario cabinet minister and currently Dean of the G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education at Ryerson University, has some advice. Here are her five top job hunting tips for older workers.

Three things to avoid in an interview:

Talking about your age: “This is always tricky,” says Bountrogianni, who has a Ph.D. in education and was chief psychologist for the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board before entering politics.

“Employers are not allowed to ask about your age, but they often hint at it. Talk around your age in constructive ways. [For example,] you can indicate that because you no longer have little children you have a lot of flexibility around scheduling.

Tipping your tech hand: “Be careful. Don’t just say you use Facebook and Twitter. Show how you have used social media to increase sales, or promote an event, so they won’t think you are on it all the time.”

Don’t say, I’m ready for a change: “While it may be very true, it sounds like you are bored, and have grown stale in your current job,” Bountrogiann says.

Two ways to spruce up your resume:

Age proof it: Don’t go back to the beginning of your career. Choose the experiences that relate to the job you are applying for. Do not put in specific dates for jobs or schooling.

Show what you have done: Use a functional, rather than chronological resume, so that you can bundle your experiences without dating them and relate skills to the job advertised.

Bountrogianni says employers want to know you’re not planning to coast at their expense.

They also want to know you are still current, so she advises taking courses in your field of interest and keeping up to date. Always have questions in an interview, because employers want you to be interested in them and about their job.

Bountrogianni is Ontario’s representative on Skills Connect Inc., a national non-profit organization founded by the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce in 2010. It receives government funding and owns ThirdQuarter, a national employment recruiter for people aged 45 and over. More agencies are working with older adults, including The Challenge Factory, which has offices in Toronto, Calgary and Ottawa.

The Chang School offers programs of interest to 50+ workers. Wednesday, Bountrogianni is hosting a free breakfast between 8:30 and 10:30 as part of a panel discussion on aging in the workforce. It is being held at Heaslip House, 7th Floor, 297 Victoria Street.

Toronto Star

Living Well Navigator ambassador and respected Australian media personality Deborah Hutton talks about the positives of getting older and celebrating her 50th birthday – naked on the cover of a magazine.

Since I so unashamedly celebrated my 50th birthday naked on the cover of The Australian Women’s Weekly, I’ve somehow become the poster girl for the 50-plus set… and that’s a very happy and empowering place for me to be.

Personally I like to think that by the time you reach your fifties you’re in a great place. You’ve gathered a wealth of knowledge, a lifetime of experience, hopefully you’re stronger, smarter and more active than you’ve ever been, you have an enormous amount to contribute and you’ve fine-tuned a decent sense of humour because you’ll need it!

We all appreciate getting older does have its challenges, but for me it’s about making positive choices around my future and importantly, my own happiness. When I was approached to join with NRMA as an ambassador of Living Well Navigator, I immediately connected with how necessary and comprehensive a tool this is, and how it offers clear direction around mature-age concerns with real answers and real services.

I want to congratulate NRMA, not only for this brilliant initiative, but for their foresight in calling it Living Well Navigator, because the words LIVING WELL are what it’s all about for me.

I’m very fortunate in my work that I come across some extraordinary people from very different walks of life, and I am in the position where I get to sit down, have a chat on camera and discover what makes them tick. I am continually inspired by age and wisdom.

Only this week I had a very funny, candid and inspiring chat with our own living legend Dawn Fraser, who continues to be as active and valued in the community as ever. She was telling a wonderful story about how an 83-year-old woman from the Sunshine Coast wanted Dawn to teach her how to swim 50 metres. And sure enough, with Dawn’s help, she reached her goal in only a few weeks – 83… bless her!

I was in the Barossa Valley recently filming an interview with the one and only Maggie Beer for my websiteBalance by Debora Hutton. I have been very lucky to have crossed paths with Maggie over the years through my work with Qantas and Channel 9, and I always come away amazed by her level of energy, commitment and good humour.

She was awarded Senior Australian of the Year in 2010 and has used that platform to create the Maggie Beer Foundation, which focuses on supporting the wellbeing of people in aged care facilities by providing them with food that looks appetising, and is full of flavour and nutrients. It’s a major passion for her and we love her for it.

I look at Ita Buttrose who I met many moons ago when I was modelling in the early 80s and she was the queen of the Packer publishing empire. She’s lived a full life of being a mum, wife and businesswoman. She’s now busy hosting a morning show on Channel 10, still sitting on numerous boards, and spending her time speaking and mentoring others. Ita is in her early 70s with no signs she’s about to slow down.

And it’s not just the women who stop me in my tracks. Did you see Clint Eastwood’s latest movie, Jersey Boys? Clint is 84 and still producing exceptional movies that make big dollars for the box office.

My point is, let’s not hold back as we get older but utilise all the wisdom and knowledge we’ve gathered over the years and put it to good use.
What will you regret later if you don’t do something about it today? You don’t have to be an award-winning actor or Olympian to recognise this – it’s about playing to your strengths and never giving in.

I like to think about getting older not as a number that comes round every year but how I actually feel in myself. I don’t like to put limitations on myself. I know that I always want to be fit and flexible enough to move freely and play golf. I want to be doing something valuable, giving back to the community in some way and feeling connected with people. I want to be travelling like my mum in her late 70s and booking cruises overseas. I don’t want my health issues to become a daily conversation. I want to continue to be kind and considerate and hope that if I step out of line, one of my best pals will tell me to pull my head in!

Whatever it is you want, you have to acknowledge it as a priority. It might be as simple as choosing to get a little fitter and starting with a daily walk. Whatever it is, commit to it and make the most of every day. It’s a gift.

Have you recently achieved a personal goal? Do you have any tips to share? Please comment below or start a conversation over on the Living Well Navigator forums.


The Australian economy continues to be underpinned by strong population growth, but the data also highlights the increasing divergence between the Australian states.

Population growth remains weak in both South Australia and Tasmania, with both states struggling to attract immigration and capital investment.

The Australian population rose by 1.7 per cent over the year to the March quarter – reflecting strong growth on the east coast – and will continue to underpin real GDP growth for the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, population growth has begun to slow over the past few quarters.

New South Wales and Victoria continue to lead the way, with their populations rising by 1.6 per cent and 1.9 per cent, respectively, over the past year. The population in NSW sits at 7.5 million, and in Victoria at 5.8 million.

But the strongest growth remains in Western Australia. The mining boom might be over, and former mining towns have now become ghost towns, but their populations continues to rise at a rapid pace.



The population in WA rose by 2.5 per cent over the year to the March quarter. This is well down on its peak during the mining boom – 3.7 per cent growth over the year to September 2012 – but it remains rapid in every sense of the word.
Graph for How an ageing population will stunt our growth

Population growth reflects a number of factors. Economic opportunity can explain a great deal of WA’s growth; the mining boom made the state a particularly attractive destination for not only immigrants but those living interstate.

For NSW and Victoria it is a combination of the nation’s pursuit of high immigration combined with the appeal of big city living. Queensland, to a lesser extent, benefits from this but also from the mining boom and intangibles such as their tropical climate.

At the other end of the spectrum we have states where opportunities have been poor. Population growth in South Australia and Tasmania have been remarkably soft given Australia’s high immigration intake.

I’ve been critical of our federal government’s preference for a ‘Big Australia’ because it has been pursued with little regard for our existing infrastructure and natural resources (The Big Australia illusion; April 22). But low population growth poses its own set of problems.

Why would businesses invest in SA or Tasmania when their market would grow more quickly elsewhere? They might be beautiful states but there’s little room for sentimentality in business.

Attracting capital investment has been difficult in these states – so difficult that it encouraged the Tasmanian government to sponsor an AFL team to increase tourism and offer the most generous first-home builder grants in the country. Tasmania has to be creative to keep its economy chugging along.

The other trend worth keeping an eye on is Australia’s ageing population. This has been well documented on a national level, but each state will be affected differently.

Over the past few decades Australia and each of the states has experienced favourable demographics that have helped boost real GDP growth. From 1980, the share of the population aged between 25 and 54 years of age increased sharply in each state and territory. Workers are traditionally most productive within this age group.
Graph for How an ageing population will stunt our growth

That created the sweet spot for economic growth and, combined with rising labour force participation among women, created the perfect environment for strong growth. But those favourable demographics are at an end, with the share of the population between 25 and 54 years old now on the decline.

The effect has been felt most in Tasmania and SA, where the populations are oldest. But each of our six states is generally quite old, and growth will continue to be hamstrung by an ageing population.

The Australian economy continues to be underpinned by strong population growth but it has been concentrated on the east coast and in WA. Despite a strong immigration intake, our demographics continue to turn unfavourably and that will weigh on growth over the foreseeable future.


By Neil Patrick and Dean Goranson


The debate about the relationship between employee age and business performance has been going on for ever. But the recent economic turmoil and its after effects on young and old alike have resulted in the topic surfacing again. It’s time to ditch the prejudices.

Employer attitudes can be summarised as:

Younger workers are cheaper to hire, have more up-to-date skills – especially in the area of technology and have more energy and dynamism. They also have lower reliability and significantly less loyalty.

Older workers stick around for much longer than their younger peers. They attain greater mastery of their work and have higher interpersonal skills. But they are also more expensive, less energetic and struggle with today’s technology.

This simplified view distorts the real question. There is no simple correlation between employee age and business performance. Having an older or younger workforce doesn’t automatically make your business perform better or worse. Neither does providing a great working environment result in greater staff loyalty.

The surprising truths about age and employee retention

According to the PayScale report, the Fortune 500 company with the highest median employee tenure (20 years) is Eastman Kodak. More than half of its employees are older than 50. Over the five years through 2012, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, it delivered an average return on assets of negative 12%…

Another myth is that creating a great working environment and culture for staff increases loyalty.

The perks Google lays on for its youthful employees are the stuff of legend. Free gourmet food all day, the best health insurance plan anywhere, five months’ paid maternity leave, kindergartens and gyms at the workplace, the freedom to work on one’s own projects 20 percent of the time, even death benefits. The tech behemoth has topped Fortune Magazine’s list of best companies to work for every year since 2007.

Despite this, Google ranks amongst those with the highest employee turnover rates. The median employee tenure at Google is just over one year, according to the payroll consultancy PayScale.

The simple truths are staring us in the face

So what are businesses to do? If you hire younger people, you are burdened with higher turnover rates. If your workforce is older, you risk stagnation and loss of competitive edge.

A friend of mine, Dean Goranson has provided a valuable perspective which I provide below. It’s a simple tale about his experiences when seeking to get his watch strap repaired.

Here’s Dean’s tale:

A while back I had somehow managed to break the watch band on my high end wrist watch. I finally got tired of running around with it in my pocket, so one day I decided to go down to the mall and check out the jewellery stores to either get it fixed or replaced.

The first store I stopped in, I showed the young lady my watch. She took it to her manager. He asked if I had purchased the watch in their store. I said , ”No”. He replied, “I’m sorry it’s the store’s policy to only work on Items we sell from here.” I then asked, “Isn’t that the style of watch you have in your display case?” “Well yes” was this young man’s reply “but we don’t service anything we haven’t sold. Perhaps you should try that watch band kiosk across from us.” This young manager who must of been well on the south side of thirty was definite in his conviction of his being right. Consumer experience was nowhere to be found on his radar screen. So off to the kiosk to see if I would have any better luck there.

The experience with the young lady who also appeared to be well on the south side of thirty turned out to be quite similar to the first store I had stopped at. I asked if she thought she could fix my watch band. “No, I’m afraid I can’t. We only sell watch bands and put them on for the customer and I don’t have anything that nice. I have an imitation leather if you want me to put that on for you?” I declined and bid her adieu. I really started to feel like this was becoming a quest by this point with no easy answers, yet on I trudged to the next jewellery store.

At the third store I was confronted by another well under thirty something young fella. I showed him the watch and asked if they could fix it “Let me get my manager.” The manager is summoned. Another under 30 something, he takes a look at the watch and say’s “Let’s see what my jeweller can do with this.” so over to the jewellers station we go he looks at it and say’s ” I’m not going to be able to fix this band.” the manager then asks ” Do we have any watch bands in the store to replace this?’ They look and no can do. “Well, I guess we’ll need to call home office to order a replacement.”

The manager asked the jeweller to call home office for the order, the jeweller came back and said he couldn’t get home office on the phone. The manager then asked, “Let me get your phone number and I will call you as soon as I find out something.” At least this young manager was trying to make my experience worthwhile but his operation was in such a state of chaos that he couldn’t make it happen. So off I went disappointed and frustrated.

By now I was a bit dejected at not being able to either get my watch band fixed or replaced.


Walking past the fourth jewellery store, I happened to look in and behind the counter were a couple of ladies. They were well up in age – the grey hair, the glasses and thick figures. I thought to myself what the heck, let’s see if they have any ideas.

Into the store I go and ask these two women, “I’ve got a broken watch band is there anything you can do with it?” “Let me see it,” the white haired gal asked. “We’ve only just started selling this brand of watch; you’ve had yours for a while haven’t you?” “Yes I have.” I could tell in her mind she was fussing over what her next move was going to be. “Let’s take this over to Bill and see what he has to say”.

So over to Bill we go who turns out to be their manager. He too is older and greying. The lady explains the situation to him and asks what they could do to help me. Bill looks at me and says ” Technically I’m not supposed to work on a watch we haven’t sold to a customer, the upper management has the fear we will get sued by someone who claims we broke their stuff.” “You wouldn’t do something like that if I worked on your watch would you?” I said “It’s already broken, what have I got to lose.”

Bill then asks,” Where did your watch fit on your wrist before the band broke?” I showed him and he said “Let me try something.” He took my watch over to another counter and came back in a couple of minutes and said “See if that fits over your hand?” My watch fits better now than it did before I broke the band. Bill even refused to charge for the repair.

A few weeks later it was a good friend’s birthday. And I bought her some diamond earrings. Did I shop around? No I just went straight back to Bill…

Horses for coursesDean’s experience is not research data of course. It’s no more or less than a personal experience. But I am sure it is one that most of us can relate to and have probably shared.

In the effort to improve on profits, what ends up being missed is the consumer experience – the part which keeps the customer coming back for more and recommending the business to others. This hinges on those people the business owner has retained to be the company’s representatives to the public. The higher the quality service the customer receives, the better the results for the business.

As Dean’s story relates, the different levels of service received directly influenced his purchase behaviour now and probably for many years to come. An older employee might be well past the dynamic approach of their youth. But today, youthful distractions are behind them. They have the rich experience of what quality service and customer care really mean.

It seems to me that it’s time to forget the over-simplistic and pointless debate of young versus old. What we need is a simple recognition that age in and of itself is not the issue. Skills and attitudes are what matter. If you want to give your customers excellent service, there is a strong argument for hiring older people. And even if they are slightly more expensive, you’ll recover these costs in longer tenure and enhanced customer loyalty. If you need the sort of perspective that the young have and can afford to replace them frequently, then hire young people. But don’t expect there’s anything you can do to keep them for long.

Let’s not be trapped by the pointless argument about which is better. The key to getting the best business results is about understanding the distinct merits of young and old, making hiring decisions on the value of each and the requirements of the role regardless of the candidate’s age.

Posted by Adam Blanch on 16 September 2014   

The 2014 Federal Budget is mostly ‘stick’ and very little ‘carrot’ for older Australians. By reducing government support to older Australians, it will force many to work longer but offers few incentives to do so.

It’s not clear whether all the changes from the Federal Budget will make it through the Senate, but there are a few realities that older workers need to consider.

The major change is that the age pension will be both more difficult to obtain and of lower value. Income testing will be more stringent, with the income eligibility threshold being 35 per cent lower than it currently is. Superannuation will continue to be included in the ‘asset test’, but super draw downs will now be considered ‘income’ as well, making it harder to obtain a part pension.

Additionally, the age pension will now be indexed to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), rather than the average male wage. Council on the Ageing (COTA) estimates that this means a real world reduction of $80 per person per week on a full pension within 10 years.

Last but not least, the age at which a person is eligible for the pension will increase from 67 years of age at a rate of six months every two years until it hits 70 years of age in 2035. This translates to Australia having the highest age for the age pension in any OECD country.

COTA – the leading national advocate for seniors – came out strong in response to the Federal Budget stating that: “The more vulnerable and disadvantaged groups within the community are being asked to take a disproportionate share of the burden of adjustment, including the young and the old.”

There will also be an increase in the income threshold for the Seniors Healthcare Card. The Seniors Supplement was abolished as of 1 July, 2014 and a new co-payment for both doctor’s visits ($7) and medications (80 cents) will be introduced. As seniors are the demographic most in need of medical assistance, this will hit them the hardest.

The other major change is to superannuation. The concessional superannuation contribution cap (contributions that are made before tax deductions) that you are permitted increases from $25,000 to $35,000 by 2015 for those over 50 years of age. The non-concessional cap (voluntary contributions from post-tax incomes) goes up from $150,000 to $180,000. This means that you can voluntarily build your super faster. However, for incomes over $300,000, the tax rate on super contributions still jumps from 15 per cent to 30 per cent.

Overall, older people are being ‘encouraged’ to work longer and save more to support their retirement.

Judy Higgins, the general manager of the Older Workers job board, says that this means hard times ahead for some older Australians and women in particular.

“Older women reportedly have, on average, half the amount of super of males the same age,” she says.

“They earn less and are more likely to have significant gaps in employment due to childbirth, parenting or later in life caring duties.”

The only support program proposed in the Federal Budget is the introduction of the Restart programme, which offers employers up to $10,000 to employ an older worker. The payments are staged over two years and the person being employed must have been on benefits for more than six months.

The Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey says that this will help 32,000 older workers back into employment.

Yet Higgins disagrees.

“Previous incentive payments of these types have had little to no affect,” she says.

“We think the government has missed the mark with the Restart incentive, if the objective is to increase the number of older jobseekers being employed.”

This budget is about getting people to work longer and increase their own superannuation balances before retirement. Older workers in fulltime employment may be able to save more, but those who are not working and who do not have adequate super balances face a difficult future.

With falling support from government in managing the cost of living and healthcare, older workers will have to make up the difference from their earnings or superannuation, or start drawing against their assets earlier.


Source:  The Living Well Navigator

 The Drum, 2 Septembert 2014

Emily Millane, Research Fellow
The Drum Unleashed, 2 September 2014

Our retirement income system is now skewed so heavily towards the wealthy in our society that we’re not just at risk of going nowhere, we risk going backwards, writes Emily Millane.It’s always slightly unnerving when the airline you’re flying with says it needs to take some time to redistribute the weight on the aircraft before you take off. Visions of a plane dragging one wing along the runway with sparks flying everywhere tend to ensue.

The fact is, the distribution of an aircraft’s weight needs to be calibrated in such a way that the thing can get off the ground, and back onto it, safely. And so it is with our tax and transfer system.

Distribute it right and you’re off; get the distribution wrong and society is on a fast track to nowhere.

Per Capita’s recent report, The Entitlement of Age, argues that, together, increasing longevity and rising inequality are making Australia’s retirement income system unsustainable. The structure of the system, combined with the distribution of benefits, is skewed so heavily towards the wealthy in our society that we’re not just at risk of going nowhere, we risk going backwards.

Notwithstanding differences as a result of race, education and socio-economic status, on average Australians have very high life expectancies. Indigenous Australians are the notable exception to this average

Per Capita’s findings show that we are living longer than previously estimated, largely as a result of declining mortality rates. We need to plan for longer lives, and we need incomes to pay for them.

The current system will not deliver retirement security, even if Australians work until they are 70. Some Australians will move into older age well funded but women, the low-paid and those in insecure work will not.

Per Capita’s research, using four different scenarios, shows that a woman retiring in 2049 who has children and works a mix of full-time and part-time hours will have only 60 per cent of the superannuation balance of a man the same age as her, a deficit of $358,000.

The way in which superannuation is taxed compounds the income insecurity faced by vulnerable groups. The concessional rate of tax on superannuation income relative to ordinary income, known as “superannuation tax concessions”, favours those with higher incomes.

If the Government is successful in removing the Low Income Superannuation Contribution, people on low incomes will pay more on their superannuation contributions than they do on ordinary income.

More than 50 per cent of the superannuation tax concessions go to the wealthiest 20 per cent Australians. At the same time, Per Capita’s annual tax survey showed that 42 per cent of people on incomes of $200,000 and above consider that the best way to pay for longer lives is through further superannuation tax concessions.

As detailed by the ACTU recently, the IMF has found that Australia foregoes more through tax expenditures than all other advanced economies it analysed. The largest areas of expenditure are housing and superannuation tax concessions.

What does all of this tell us? It tells us that people on the highest incomes have come to see the beneficial tax treatment of their superannuation as an entitlement. It tells us that any effort to change the shape of tax on superannuation to make it fairer will require political courage. It also tells us that change is necessary.

The Government’s proposed alterations to the age pension, particularly in respect of indexation, will mean that it does not provide a safety net from poverty. It is those same groups that are disadvantaged by the superannuation system that will face further financial precariousness as a result of these changes – the women, the low-paid and those engaged in insecure work.

Australia’s spending on the age pension is going up; no one is arguing with that. However, as the Treasurer found out with his comments in respect of the fuel excise, it’s the proportion of income that matters. Australia spends about 3.5 per cent of its GDP on the age pension compared with an average spend by other wealthy counties of 7.8 per cent of GDP.

So what of it? What does it matter that some people will have overseas holidays and theatre shows to look forward to in later life, while others will sit at home watching daytime TV? Or that some people will see medical specialists while others will put off seeing the GP?

It matters because these questions go to the issue of human dignity. Australians are entitled to incomes sufficient for a dignified life.

More broadly, these questions go to the issue of what sort of society we understand Australia to be. Whether we are all on this journey together, or whether it is OK that there is an increasing distance between people in economy, and the class of people who haven’t seen the back of a plane in years.

Brent Peppercorn and his grandmother Linda Goldsmith, at right, who have been touring NSW with the Living Well Navigator meet Wollongong's Susan Barnett. Picture: GREG TOTMAN

Brent Peppercorn and his grandmother Linda Goldsmith, at right, who have been touring NSW with the Living Well Navigator meet Wollongong’s Susan Barnett.

Almost half of NSW baby boomers have had to face age discrimination, according to an NRMA survey.

The survey was carried out as part of the research into a new website – Living Well Navigator – directed at the over 50s.

Forty per cent of the respondents said they have experienced age discrimination themselves or knew of someone who had.

In addition, 37 per cent of people over 50 have little confidence they would be treated fairly in a job interview.

Peter Khoury from the NRMA said this was concerning, especially given the federal government’s plan to push back the retirement age to 70.

Mr Khoury said businesses needed to adjust to the realities that come with the ageing baby boomer population.

“There’s a lot of debate about the working age being extended, which means a lot of Australian companies need to be prepared for the fact that their workforce is going to be older than it used to be,” Mr Khoury said.

With more than half of the NRMA’s membership over the age of 50, the Navigator site aims to provide support for those looking to get back into the workforce.

“The Living Well Navigator site assists older workers by providing information on how to get jobs and volunteering information as well as hosting a jobs board to connect older workers with age-friendly employers,” said NRMA local director Michael Tynan.

“The site aims to bust common myths and stereotypes on ageing. Those north of 50 have comprehensive knowledge, are highly skilled, active and make valuable contributions to our society.”

The website provides a wide range of information for the over-50s – including work, health, travel and supported and independent living.

Source:  Illawarra Mercury