Posts Tagged “mature age workers”

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.



It hasn’t been an easy couple of months for Susan Ryan at the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), but she seems to be bearing up well, with pointed humour and a certain wry optimism. In her role as the  commission’s age discrimination commissioner, Ryan gave a speech to the National Press Club this week, warning of a “national crisis” if society doesn’t do more to keep older people in the workplace. But that’s not a problem for Ryan who, at 71, now has two full-time jobs. From July, she also took on responsibilities of the outgoing disability discrimination commissioner, Graeme Innes – and she does not see the two roles as complementary.

“To me, the two areas of discrimination and social policy are quite different,” she says. “A lot of issues with disabled people are about people who were disabled from birth or when they were young, who have to be supported through education, who hope to get a job and live independently. Age discrimination, as it hits the workforce, is mainly about employers thinking that they’re back in the 19th century and you can’t employ anyone over 55. It’s the cultural prejudice.”

But the commission comes under the portfolio of Attorney-General George Brandis, and “George Brandis decided he wanted to lose a commissioner,” says Ryan. “So Graeme Innes was the first commissioner to finish his term, but they didn’t replace him. Brandis decided another commissioner could take the load, and I was the person he would appoint to do that. I could’ve said no, I suppose, but I didn’t think that would solve any problems.”

We’re sitting in the courtyard of the Hyde Park Barracks Cafe on Macquarie Street in the city, enclosed by sandstone walls. It’s a business lunch and Ryan is brisk with the menu. She orders the duck salad, on the waiter’s recommendation. “I’m not a picky eater,” she says. “I like to eat, but I’m not a foodie. I don’t fuss around saying, ‘I can’t have this leaf”, or ‘I have to have that leaf’.”

She tells me she only accepted her expanded role on the condition that the other commissioners pitched in. She mentions Mick Gooda, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social justice commissioner and Children’s commissioner Megan Mitchell.  However Ryan doesn’t mention the recently appointed human-rights commissioner Tim Wilson – cryptically dubbed a “freedom commissioner”  who joined directly from his post as policy director at the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), a free-market think tank which calls for the commission to be abolished.

“If you look at the public comments of George Brandis, he is not an admirer of the commission’s work. However, I live in hope,” says Ryan.

Our lunch arrives within five minutes of our order. I’ve chosen the lamb ragout, and I wonder if it’s come out of a microwave. But it tastes fine, so maybe there’s a big pot of stew, bubbling on the stove in the kitchen.

I notice Ryan is wearing purple zippered suede boots, and a flash of the same colour in her scarf.

Is that a grow-older-wear-purple thing?

“Well, no, it’s feminist purple, Mark. Purple is the feminist colour.”

Some of her lipstick has come off on the duck. Was the lipstick feminist purple too?
“No,” she says, infinitely patient. “Purple wouldn’t be a good choice for a 71-year-old lady.”

I’ve heard Ryan doesn’t employ any older people in her office. Is she a hypocrite?

“No, I’m not,” she says. “All the staff are appointed under the Commonwealth Public Service guidelines by the commission. So, although I take part in who should be employed, I don’t actually employ anyone. But old? Well, I’ve got a few, I’d say…”

Pigeons peck for scraps among the pebbles on the courtyard floor.

“We don’t ask their age,” she says, “but there’re people who’ve done work for me, and will be doing more work for me, who’re in their fifties. Does that count?”

I’m 50. It doesn’t feel old.

“Look, really, um … I’m 71,” says Ryan. “I’m the oldest person at the commission. Generally, the commission staff are a younger age group because they jump out of university desperate to get into the commission.”

Ryan was born in Maroubra in 1942, the third of four children. Her father worked at the Department of Railways. She was educated by Brigidine nuns at the local parish school.

“It was what we’d call a poor school these days. There was no proper library. We had no science whatsoever. We had French taught to us by a nun who’d grown up in Cowra. But my strengths were English and history, and they were really quite well taught. I was a good student. I wasn’t a pet of the nuns, because I was quite naughty and opinionated, but I was good at speaking, so they picked me to do things. When Cardinal Gilroy visited, I was the one picked to say, ‘Your eminence, welcome to our school.’

“I was away from school a lot because I was a sickly child. I had pink disease. I don’t think anyone gets it anymore, but during the war a lot of babies did and most of them died. But not Susan Marie Ryan.”

Ryan won a teachers’ scholarship and became the first person from her family or her school to go to university. Her mother, she says, was “very down on the idea”.

“She thought I should work, then marry a nice Catholic boy at about 20 … As it turned out, I did get married at 20, but that was a different set up.”

She went to Sydney University and loved it, but wed fellow student Richard Butler just after their BA exams. “I’d wanted to go on and do a Masters,” she says, “but I lost my teachers’ college scholarship – because girls weren’t allowed to get married – however, I subsequently did a Masters at ANU.”

She couldn’t finish her teacher training, so she worked as an untrained teacher in a Catholic school.

“I only taught there for one year,” she says, “because, despite the reliability of the Catholic form of contraception – the rhythm method – I did very quickly become pregnant with Justine.”

They moved to Canberra when her husband got a job at the Department of Foreign Affairs. When Justine turned one year old, they decided to have another child. “I thought we’d better hurry up,” she says, “so we’d have it here before Richard got an overseas post. So I conceived Benedict, but he got an overseas post much sooner, so Benedict was born in Vienna.”

They lived for three years in Austria – “which was extremely fascinating and informative for someone who’d grown up in Maroubra” – came home, then Butler was posted to New York.

“During the course of that posting we fell out,” she says. “I came back with the children to Canberra. The divorce was in 1972.”

I thought Catholics couldn’t get divorced.

“Round about that time,” she says, “I was losing faith. I mean, I have a lot of respect for some people in the church blah blah blah blah. One of my own sisters is a nun. One of my best friends is a priest. But I lost faith. So, although being divorced was an unusual thing back then…”

She pauses to face a realisation.

“In the eyes of the Catholic church,” she says, “I’m still married to Richard Butler. My God.”

She had joined Gough Whitlam’s Labor Party at the end of 1971, the year before the ALP finally won government after 23 years in opposition. She was an energetic party activist and high-profile feminist, who helped set up the Women’s Electoral Lobby, and in 1975 – just months before Whitlam’s dismissal – she won the rank-and-file pre-selection for a newly created Senate seat in the ACT.

She took her seat but, she says, “I came into this caucus of what seemed to be – and were, in many cases – old men that were heartbroken, who’d been in Parliament for the 23 years, tried and tried and tried to get government, they’d got government with Gough, they were doing all these things, and then they were kicked out. And I, of course, was a great Whitlam fan, and thought I was signing up for the fabulous reforming Whitlam government, and then suddenly were this very unhappy little caucus of disappointed people.”

But, overall, she enjoyed being in government. She liked the range of tasks, the feeling of being at the centre of national life, and learning how Australian society really worked.

When the Hawke government was elected in 1983, she became Labor’s first female cabinet minister, responsible for education and assisting the prime minister on the status of women. She is especially proud of her role in helping pass the landmark Sex Discrimination Act 1984.

But after the 1987 election, she was moved from the education portfolio and subsequently left parliament, “tired of being in the eye of the storm and pretty well fed up”. She turned her back on government but not politics, working in the superannuation industry while campaigning for a Human Rights Act. But she’d given up full-time employment by the time she was headhunted by the AHRC for the age-discrimination commissioner’s job in 2011.

Once she has cleaned her lunch plate, she confesses, “I’m not actually a big fan of duck. I agreed because I thought, ‘Hurry up. We’re here to work.’ But, in fact, it was very delicious.”

She orders a skinny flat white. The barista draws a leaf on the surface of the coffee. I wonder why they do that.

“Well,” says Ryan, “our logo at the commission for the age-discrimination work is a tree. I’d be delighted to think that they’d researched that themselves and specially made a tree on my coffee. But probably not.”

Ryan lives in Coogee with former ABC journalist and manager Rory Sutton.

How long have they been together?

Ryan sighs like a coffee machine.

“In one sense or another, for a couple of decades,” she says. “But we weren’t always … how should I put it? The relationship changed over the years. But in recent years, we’ve kind of … settled down.”

I suspect Ryan would be grateful if her working life would settle down too, but there doesn’t seem to be much chance of that.


1942: Born in  Maroubra, NSW

1963: Graduates from Sydney University, marries future senior diplomat Richard Butler

1964: Daughter Justine born

1966: Son Ben born, during Butler’s first diplomatic posting in Vienna, Austria

1971: Splits up with Butler, returns to Australia from Butler’s posting in New York, joins the ALP.

1972: Divorces Butler

1975 -1988: Senator for the ACT

1983: Minister for education and youth, and minister assisting the prime minister on the status of women

1993: CEO of the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia

2005: Chair of the Australian Human Rights Act Campaign

2011: Commissioner for age discrimination at the Human Rights Commission


Date   chael Emerson

Jobs are growing at a faster rate for baby boomers, and Australians in their twilight years, than for youth and young adults.

These surprising statistics are revealed in a study conducted for Fairfax Media.

Since the global financial crisis of 2008, Australian jobs have grown steadily, with 870,000 jobs added to the economy. However, the growth among lifestage segments has been varied. This has led to significant attitudinal changes among workers to employment, especially among the younger Gen Z (teens) and Gen Y (young adults) segments. 

As the chart shows, among full time jobs, Gen Z and Gen Y, have lost employment since 2008Gen Z has lost 48,000 jobs whereas for Gen Y the market has shrunk by 54,000 jobs, according to labour force data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, modelled by EMDA, a business solution company, for Fairfax Media.

So what’s happened?

In any economic downturn, the young and least experienced suffer the most. Before the global crisis, Gen Z and Gen Y were known to be demanding. They were used to jobs being plentiful and so could pick and choose. Loyalty to an employer was an old-fashioned idea to them.

In the more difficult job market since 2008, there have been profound changes in attitudes, such as  delivering value to employers and concerns over the security of employment have become more prominent.

Unemployment among the younger segments is also the highest in the workforce. Among Gen Z it’s three times the average than for the rest of the workforce.

Among Gen Z there are sub-segments, which signal extremely concerning employment outcomes. Among indigenous Gen Z, unemployment rates are just over 30 per cent and among Gen Z new arrivals to Australia the rate is 42 per cent, according to census data.

Lack of education and work-related skills are major barriers to employment for these segments, and if unemployed for six months or more, it’s hard to get them into the workforce. Consequently, entrenched unemployment with its social and financial problems for the individual and society become the norm.

Education remains a key for a successful entry to the workforce.

For baby boomers, the job market has continued to be one of steady growth, with 240,000 full-time jobs added for this segment since 2008. Their experience and skills have kept them in good stead.

The real surprise is the growth in twilight careers (workers aged 63 or more). Although the smallest segment of the workforce, there are now 580,000 twilight workers employed, which is only slightly less than Gen Z (681,000). For this segment, 79,000 full-time jobs have been created since 2008. Their lifetime of work skills, their loyalty and reliability is increasingly appreciated by employers.

There is still some resistance to employing older workers, although this attitude is gradually changing.  This is good for twilight workers and the economy overall, but the downside could be there are fewer older Australians available to provide care for their grandkids. The numbers are significant: according to the census about 350,000 Australians over the age of 63 cared for other children, so more twilight workers in the paid workforce means less time available for child care duties. For Generation X parents, this can be a significant issue as one important factor which contributes to labour market participation among parents in the Gen X lifestage is access to child care.

Michael Emerson, is an economist and director of Economic and Market Development Advisors, EMDA.

Source:  The Age

Age discrimination commissioner Susan Ryan

The reluctance of Australian employers to hire older workers is costing the country about $10 billion each year, according to Australia’s age discrimination commissioner.

Susan Ryan says bias against workers over 50 is endemic and she fears it is much worse than previously thought.

She is using an address to the National Press this lunchtime to announce a new study into the prevalence of age discrimination in Australian workplaces.

“I expect we’ll find a picture that will be quite frightening,” Ms Ryan told ABC Radio’s The World Today.

“I think we will find that there is far more negative behaviour towards older workers than people understand – until it happens to them.”

The interim report, by Roy Morgan research, is expected to be finalised by the end of the year, and Ms Ryan expects the full report to be public by March next year.

But before it has even begun she suggests people should get a career check-up to map out at least the next decade of their working life as they approach 50.

“I think we need a national approach which will involve people in a systematic check-up on their career prospects while they’re still in employment, regardless of what sort of job they work in,” she said.

“[They] should be saying, ‘well, can I do this job for the next 20 years? Will I be able to? Do I want to? Have I got the physical strength to? And if I need to change what is available to me? How do I find another job?'”

Ms Ryan would like to see TAFE colleges play a central role, with support from the federal and state governments.

She said TAFEs are well placed to help as they “have good relationships with local employers” and understand which industries are growing and which are shrinking.

Time for businesses to recognise older Australians’ value

Businesses also need to undergo a “sea change” to see the value in employing older Australians, according to Ms Ryan.

“We get a lot of formal complaints at the [Human Rights] Commission, and they take the form of people being nagged into taking redundancies, or people being told they’re no longer suitable for their task, and being laid off,” she said.

“Employers have to say to themselves, I want the best person for the job, not a person that I’m judging by the number of birthdays he or she has had” Susan Ryan


“People being told they can’t undertake training that would be necessary for promotion or even to maintain their position because their employer thinks they’re too old or they won’t get their money’s worth investing in their training.”

In the federal budget the Government announced businesses would be eligible for up to $10,000 if they employed a job seeker over the age of 50 and kept them in employment.

While other wage subsidy programs have not had a big take-up rate, Ms Ryan said she hoped this one would be successful.

But she warned there was more to be done.

“Employers have to say to themselves, I want the best person for the job, not a person that I’m judging by the number of birthdays he or she has had,” she said.

The Commissioner has also questioned the need for an influx of foreign workers on 457 or similar working visas, when so many older Australians are still willing to work.

“I agree if we do have serious skills shortages, and we do have overseas workers who can come in, that’s a sensible thing to do,” she said.

“But it’s very hard to believe, when you look at the numbers of unemployed people in their 50s and 60s, the numbers of people who are willing to train, who are willing to move for a job.”

“You have to ask yourself, are employers looking at our local talent pool of mature workers before they decide they need to import labour? I don’t think the answer is yes in every case.”

She says research previously commissioned for the Australian Human Rights Commission found a 3 per cent increase in workforce participation amongst workers aged 55 and over could contribute $33 billion to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP).

“It’s big, big money,” she said.

“When you look at numbers like that it’s hard to understand why more effort isn’t being made to ensure those people can work longer.”

Source: ABC.NET.AU

Date September 17, 2014 
  • Judith Ireland
Check-up: Age Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan has said older employees should have routine career check-ups much like they have health check-ups.

Check-up: Age Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan has said older employees should have routine career check-ups much like they have health check-ups. Photo: Andrew Quilty (AFR)

Australians approaching their 50s should have routine “career check-ups” to prevent unemployment as they get older, just as they would have a regular health check-up with their doctor, Age Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan says.

In a bid to address Australia’s ageing population and unemployment among 50 and 60-somethings, Ms Ryan said there should be a nationally co-ordinated approach to help everyone at midlife “check where they are and change direction if they need to”.

Ms Ryan will tell the National Press Club on Wednesday that TAFE colleges should be at the centre of the plan where workers would be given a skills analysis and advice about what sort of job they could expect to do for the following 20 years, particularly if they are in a declining industry, physically unable to continue their existing job or burnt out.

“This is not a crisis management plan,” she will say. “It is a preventative approach that would have older people recharging and moving smoothly to the next stage of employment.”

In her address, Ms Ryan will also announce that she has asked Roy Morgan to conduct the first ever national prevalence study of age discrimination in the workplace. The survey will begin in coming weeks, with initial results in December and a full report in March.

“I do not wish to pre-empt its results; my guess however, is it will signal an urgent and massive challenge,” Ms Ryan will say.

She will tell the Press Club there are millions of people over 55 who want a job but cannot get one: “older people are more likely to be unemployed long term than any other group”.

She will also note that more than 50 per cent of age discrimination complaints made to the Australian Human Rights Commission relate to employment.

The Age Discrimination Commissioner will discuss the negative assumptions that younger people – particularly those under 35 – have about older workers. She will argue that the workforce needs to move away from a model that “seeks and favours only the youthful, presumed ‘hungry’ and ‘high energy’ dynamos”.

“The new model should include all skilled and high energy candidates, regardless of how many birthdays they have chalked up.”

Ms Ryan, who was education minister under the Hawke government, will also argue for greater flexibility in the job market. “All employers need to ditch assumptions that job flexibility is an aberration to be reluctantly granted only to women returning from maternity leave.”

Ms Ryan said those in their 50s and 60s could be working at close to the levels of those in their 30s and 40s.

“It makes serious economic sense, as well as common sense, to harness this human capital.”

Modelling by Deloitte Access Economics for the Human Rights Commission shows that a 3 per cent increase in workforce participation for workers over 55 – beyond an already expected 2.7 per cent by 2024-25 – would contribute an extra $33 billion to Australia’s GDP.

This comes as the government seeks to increase the pension age to 70 by 2035 to make welfare spending “sustainable”. The previous Labor government already increased it from 65 to 67 by 2023.

Source:  SMH


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.

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.


AUSTRALIA is not producing enough quality jobs to keep up with population increases and the problem is getting worse, a new report shows.

The OECD report released on Tuesday reveals unless economic growth rises the jobs market will be filled with low paying jobs.

“The current growth trajectory, if unchanged, will not create enough quality jobs — give rising to the risk that the jobs gap will remain substantial,” the report says.

“Underemployment and informal employment will rise and sluggish growth in wages and incomes will continue to place downward pressure on consumption, living standards and global aggregate demand.”

The report also reveals that the gap between the highest paid and lowest paid workers was also widening.

The warning comes as employment ministers from G20 countries are meeting in Melbourne this week to discuss the global employment outlook.

The group’s membership includes Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union and South East Asian and South American countries.

Australian Employment Minister Eric Abetz, US secretary of Labor Tom Perez and Britain’s Minister of State for Employment Esther McVey, who are in Melbourne for the meeting, all argued economic growth must continue to rise.

Mr Abetz said he expected jobs growth in agriculture, mining, services and aged care sectors.

“Business as usual will continue to see that jobs gap, that is in nobody’s interest, economic or socially,” he said.

He said free trade agreements with South Korea and reducing red tape would create jobs.

Tom Perez, US secretary of labor, said higher economic growth would create jobs.

“It’s undeniable one of our challenges in the US and across the G20 is to pick up the pace of growth,” he said.

“We are debating how we stimulate consumption… transportation infrastructure investments which are very real issues. Those not only address critical infrastructure, they create good middle class jobs.”

He said cyber security was an emerging sector.

Ms McVey said youth unemployment was dropping in the UK and that schools needed to teach subjects that led to jobs, particularly in science.

She said the private sector had picked up 2 million jobs in Britain since 2010.

“We really needed to look at rebalancing the economy — jobs right across the board,” she said.

Posted at 8:59am Monday 08 Sep, 2014 | By Merle Foster

Removing the stigma surrounding employing older people and making businesses realise the ageing population’s enormous opportunity is the aim of a city forum this month.

Tauranga’s older residents and business people are encouraged to attend the Older Workforce Forum, hosted by Age Concern Tauranga and Chamber of Commerce.

Mitre 10 MEGA Tauranga team members Noel Meredith, 70, Dave Watson, 71, and Dave Semple, 74, with general manager Wayne Mansell. Photo: Tracy Hardy.

Age Concern fundraising manager Michael Vujnovich says the forum will discuss the ‘why, how and spin-offs’ of workforce generation change.

“We’re trying to raise people’s awareness of the issue of an ageing workforce but enable them to realise there is an enormous opportunity here.

“If we continue with our old, outdated model of what it means to be getting old we’ll continue to fail to address the issues that confront older people and fail to address opportunities they present to employers and society as a whole.”

Guest speakerElders Forum chair Max Lewis says “65 is the new 45”. He believes older workers have as many benefits as others, just different.

“We need to lift the perception of age as being a positive. We’ve got to stop this perceived bias. We have so many talented people, and they want to be working.”

“If you can get them working where their strengths are, they can be offering advice and knowledge to younger staff, you’re getting 30 years of knowledge and experience.”

Max also sees Tauranga as the pace-setter for the whole country.

Mega Mitre 10 Tauranga general manager Wayne Mansell knows the benefits of older workers and will talk about his company’s diversity-friendly policies in action.

“The reason we look at employing people a bit older is simply experience – they have the knowledge and they also have the integrity of the work ethic.

“We have a number of retiree plumber and builders who’ve worked in the building game in the past and are looking to continue to stay in the workforce – and we’re happy to oblige.”

Wayne says older staff are also more flexible.

“They’re willing part-time or full-time hours, extra days don’t have issues around working weekends.”

An open floor discussion with the speaker panel will finish the forum on Thursday, September 18 from 8.30am-2.30pm at Mt Club, Totara St, Mount Maunganui.

– See more at:

Date  August 26, 2014
Natasha Boddy

Canberra Times

Older workers who find themselves out of work are likely to remain unemployed much longer than younger Australians and superannuation balances among those in their pre-retirement years are unevenly distributed.

Marcia Keegan, an associate with Curtin University and SGS Economics and Planning, said generous tax concessions for mature-age workers topping up their superannuation do not benefit people who find themselves out of work or underemployed in the latter half of their working lives.

Dr Keegan will give a talk about the option for sustaining workforce participation to retirement age and reducing superannuation gaps, at a forum at the Australian National University on Wednesday.

“Things have been getting a lot better for mature-age workers, those aged between 45 and 64, over the last 20 years or so; they’ve got higher rates of employment, lower rates of disability, they’ve got lower rates of unemployment and also their superannuation balances are growing on average,” she said.

However, Dr Keegan, said it still took much longer for older job seekers to find work compared to their younger counterparts. About a quarter of those aged 45 to 64 remained unemployed for more than a year;  this was the case for only 15 per cent of people aged under 44.

This raised concerns about the impact of long-term unemployment on their the superannuation balances, she said.

Dr Keegan’s presentation will look at some of the difficulties facing older workers and discuss policy options that could increase employment for mature-age workers and boost the superannuation balances of those heading into retirement.

She said the government’s new Restart program should be “quite helpful” when it comes to encouraging the employment of older Australians. Under the program, employers will get subsidies of up to $10,000 for hiring mature-age job seekers.

“Older people have a greater risk of being long-term unemployed and they also run the risk of facing age discrimination in the workforce, so this will hopefully encourage some employers [to hire older workers],” she said.

Dr Keegan said changes that allowed older people to contribute extra to their superannuation could be quite helpful, but only to those who had employment.

“One of the things that was floated was getting rid of the low income superannuation contribution,” she said.

“Of all the ways the government can raise money from taxes, taking money from the retirement accounts of low income workers is probably not the first place you should be looking.”

Dr Keegan said moves to increase the pension age was a natural progression given life expectancies were increasing, “but that only helps if you’re able to work and able to find work”.

The Living to get the age pension and enjoy life in retirement: prospects and policy options forum will hear from several speakers discussing factors affecting the health and well-being of older Australians. It will also examine policy options that could address inequalities in retirement stemming from inequalities in earlier in life, particularly those associated with workforce participation and disability.

Richard Cumpston, director of Australian Projections, will also speak at the forum. He will discuss the topic of life expectancies, including the differences in people’s chances of dying,  such as how married people are much less likely to die than unmarried people.

Dr Cumpston also said educated people tended to have lower disease risks, and people in high-grade occupations, such as professionals or managers, tended to have better life expectancies.


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