Posts Tagged “older workers”

Published 20 August 2014 12:05, Updated 21 August 2014 07:32

What Gen Y, Gen X and Baby Boomers want at work - and just wait for Gen Z

Tamara Erickson says managers should encourage Gen Y workers to innovate.

If you think managing Generation Y workers is tricky, just wait until the next generation walks through the door.

Generational expert Tamara Erickson says children aged four to 17 have been heavily influenced by the global financial crisis, the environmental movement, mobile technology and easy access to information on the internet. That is translating into a generation of savers who feel empowered to take action and aren’t very keen to work for big companies.

“They will make very interesting consumers and employees,” Erickson, who was listed as one of the World’s Top 50 Business Thinkers in 2013, says. “We have a generation of kids coming on who would like to be entrepreneurs if they could.”

The United States-based consultant has written three books on the different generations in our workplaces and is working on a fourth book on the next generation of workers, which she calls the “ReGeneration”.

Speaking to The Australian Financial Review before her keynote speech at the Australian Human Resources Institute national convention on Wednesday, she argues that each generation’s attitude to work makes perfect sense given childhood influences – but we rarely cut other generations any slack.

Erickson acknowledges there are plenty of things that influence our preferences at work, from life stage to gender and personality. But she argues our generation has a big impact on our “knee-jerk reaction” to things. “There’s really good evidence that show some of our generational biases follow us throughout our lives.”

Erickson is a follower of Swiss developmental psychologist Jean Piaget who argued that children’s experiences from age 11 to 15 have a lasting impact on the way their perceive and interact with the world. This helps explain the differences between generations, from traditionalists (in their 70s) who created many of our hierarchical organisations to those about to join the workforce.

Keeping Gen Y interested

Older executives tend to think that Gen Y workers don’t want to “pay their dues”, Erickson says. “Frankly, [Gen Y] don’t want to do some grubby job for five years in the hope it pays off.” She argues it is not that the generation is lazy and entitled, but it is influenced by the September 11 terror attacks and the wars that followed, as well as other acts of violence like the Port Arthur massacre. All this taught the generation that random things can happen and it is best to live life to the fullest now.

Managers should accept that is a ­reasonable way to think and start catering to it and encouraging them to innovate, she says. “One way to make even menial tasks more challenging is to let them [Gen Ys] figure out how to do them,” she says.

Options appeal to Gen X

Erickson urges companies to change traditional career paths to attract and retain Gen Xs. These workers in their 30s and 40s saw climbing divorce rates, corporate collapses and job lossess in their formative years and they are focused on being self-reliant, having options and having back-up plans, she says. Offering lateral moves around a company appeals to Gen X as it broadens their skill set and options, she says.

Boomers want cyclical work

With an ageing population, companies need to be able to keep the best of their workers aged in their 50s and 60s, Erickson argues. The key is offering flexible work. Her surveys have revealed that the most popular form of work for this generation is cyclical fulltime work (such as working on a project for a few months a year) rather than the usual part-time option. This gives boomer workers the freedom to travel. This type of work is slowly growing more popular in the US. For example Mitre, a US consultancy, has “reserves at the ready” – former full-time highly trained staff who can be called back in for big projects, Erickson says.

Source:  BRW

The Human Rights Commission has launched a new video awareness campaign aimed at highlighting the value of older workers.

The Power of Oldness, launched by Age Discrimination Commissioner, Susan Ryan and Minister for Employment, Senator Eric Abetz exposes the stark difference between the skills and strengths mature workers offer employers and organisations, with the discrimination they face when trying to gain or maintain jobs.

It is a web campaign aimed at raising awareness about the value of workers over the age of 50, with the video as its centrepiece.

Ms Ryan said Australians were living through a massive demographic change, but community attitudes, employer practices and business strategies seemed to ignore this.

“The Power of Oldness campaign will, we hope, prod everyone to recognise and act to stop age discrimination,” Ms Ryan said.

Rights Commission launches video

“Research undertaken by the Australian Human Rights Commission has found that one in 10 employers won’t recruit people over the age of 50.”

She said it was important that the experience and talent of older workers was highlighted as they already contributed to business and the community and had much more to offer.

Senator Abetz said the campaign was a way of getting the message about the value of older workers, to people of all ages around Australia.

“The video juxtaposes reality and perceptions in what I consider to be an active, pacey and poignant presentation,” Senator Abetz said.

More information on the Power of Oldness can be found at this PS News link.

Posted by Susan Ryan on 19 August 2014

Susan Ryan, Age Discrimination Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission, calls on employers to take the age blinkers off and give experienced workers a fair go as part of a new positive ageing campaign titled The Power of Oldness.

Of all the complaints that the Australian Human Rights Commission receives about age discrimination, almost 60 per cent relate to employment. And these figures are an underrepresentation of overall cases. I also receive letters from older people and their families who do not wish to make a complaint, but want their stories to be heard. Their stories of repeated effort and repeated knockbacks are heartbreaking.

At a time when we are living longer and healthier lives, and when the Australian economy is crying out for skilled works, this should not be happening.

As Age Discrimination Commissioner my constant message is – give experienced workers a fair go. Take the age blinkers off and assess job applicants for what they can bring to the task.

When we waste the talents of mature workers, we not only harm them as individuals, we harm the economy, to the tune of billions of dollars lost each year.

I am encouraged that the challenge has been recognised by the Federal Government. An initiative announced in the budget shows leadership in the matter of recruiting and keeping mature workers.

On 1 July the Restart Programme commenced. This programme offers an incentive of $10,000 over two years to employers who hire a previously unemployed person over 50.

There are thousands of experienced capable older workers ready to work. All employers should look at the widest talent pool available, and appoint the best person for the job. Often, the best person will be the one with extensive, relevant work experience.

I am confident that when employers avail themselves of this incentive and take on an older person, the negative stereotypes about experience will disappear.

My message to employers is to give a 50-plus worker a go. Help restart their career – you won’t know what you’ve been missing out on until you try it.

For more information about the Restart Wage Subsidy, visit the Department of Employment’s website.

Source:  Living Well Navigator

Susan Ryan is a regular contributor to Living Well Navigator. Read more of Susan’s opinions on positive ageing:

Helpful links

Australian Human Rights Commission
Restart Programme

Henry Brodaty

Professor Henry Brodaty at Tuesday’s RightsTalk.

Photo: Australian Human Rights Commission

A leading researcher on ageing and dementia has called for better recognition of the contribution that older Australians make to society and more opportunities for intergenerational collaboration to help combat ageism.

In a talk to the Australian Human Rights Commission on Tuesday, Professor Henry Brodaty, co-director of the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing at the University of New South Wales, said the positive contribution of older people to society often remained invisible.

The internationally recognised researcher also called for a rethink on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a measure of Australia’s economic health because it failed to capture the positive impact of population ageing on the national economy. He said as a metric, GDP was ageist because it excluded the value of volunteering and household-provided care and services, of which older Australians were big contributors.

“The common stereotype is that older people are decrepit, they are not functional, they are a drain on our society and they go into nursing homes but the facts are actually quite different,” he told the Sydney audience.

He said the overwhelming majority of older people lived in private dwellings in the community and a significant number of people over 65 were still in paid employment.

“Older Australians are active contributors. Almost half of 65-74-year-olds provide unpaid assistance to someone outside the house. One third are volunteering through organisations, two-thirds are in social or support groups, and one quarter, despite having relatively low incomes, are financially supporting somebody outside their house either a child or a younger relative.”

Older people were contributing “big time to our society,” he said.

Intergenerational connections

Professor Brodaty said Australia also needed to replace the idea of an intergenerational competition for resources with “cross-generational” resource allocation and greater opportunities for collaboration. He pointed to intergenerational education and community programs that supported a more integrated society as key examples.

Professor Brodaty has visited one of the world’s first intergenerational schools in Cleveland, Ohio, which has purposefully included older adults into the design of the school’s teaching and learning model to promote the sharing of skills and knowledge between generations. Other innovative programs have connected aged care residents with local preschools for mutual benefit.

Intergenerational competition for resources such as healthcare and jobs was also a false dichotomy and investments were required at both ends of the life spectrum, he said. “We need cross-generation resources to advance the welfare of all of us.”

Turning to the attitudes of the medical profession, Professor Brodaty said ageist views in the health system also should be stamped out, especially in the area of mental health where depression can be seen as a natural part of ageing.

He said older people were not a burden on health resources but “core business for health” and the health system could become more efficient by eliminating waste such as unnecessary treatments.

Many at the forum also expressed deep concern over recent media reports that the ABC was looking to cut back on TV and radio programs aimed at older viewers and called for lobbying efforts to begin to prevent a change to programming.

Older workers

Elsewhere this week the Australian Human Rights Commission launched a new video awareness campaign aimed at highlighting the value of older workers. ‘The power of oldness” campaign was launched by Age Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan and Minister for Employment Senator Eric Abetz on Monday to address age discrimination in the workplace

Source: Australian Human Rights Commission

Watford, Dorset and the Shetland Islands are leading the charge against ‘outdated’ older worker stereotypes, a Government report revealed today.

According the figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions, Watford has the highest rate of employment among older workers, with nine out of 10 people aged 50-64 in work.

In the Shetlands this rate is 88 per cent while in north Dorset it’s 87 per cent, closely followed by Stroud in Gloucestershire and Horsham in Sussex.

New tricks: Watford, Dorset and the Shetland Islands are leading the charge against 'outdated' older worker sterotypes, a Government report revealed today

DWP minister Steve Webb said: ‘The business case for ignoring outdated and inaccurate stereotypes and giving older workers a chance to thrive is absolutely compelling, and these figures
show that in some parts of the country that message is being received loud and clear.

‘What we must do now is extend the positive record we’re seeing in counties like Hertfordshire across the whole of the UK.’

But the report also highlighted a number of employment blackspots for older workers.

Almost half of people aged 50-64 were unemployed in Hyndburn and Rossendale in Lancashire, 50 per cent in London’s Tower Hamlets, and 51 per cent in Barrow-in-Furness.


Two-thirds of employers have hired a young person in the past year, according to a survey of 600 employers.

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) said this positive outlook is set to continue for the rest of the year, with employers focussing more on candidate’s attitude rather than exam results.

Rec chief executive Kevin Green said: ‘It’s the best time in six years to be a young person coming into the jobs market.’

This resonates with data released by the Office for National Statistics last week suggesting that ageism in the workplace is still rife.

Unemployment as a whole fell to 6.4 per cent last quarter and the number of unemployed people aged 16-49 fell 18.8 per cent since May 2010, compared to just 5.3 per cent for those aged 50-64.

Dr Ros Altmann, the former director general of Saga, who was appointed last month as the Government’s Business Champion for Older Workers, said more needed to be done to help people in this age group, such as offering apprentice schemes.

‘It does seem there remains latent ageism in the labour market,’ she said. ‘Not enough is being done to help these people back to work and overcome ageist attitudes.’

And with retirement at the age of 65 looking increasingly unfeasible for most workers, employment equality is essential if they’re to top up their dwindling pension pot.

Steve Webb added: ‘Another crucial point is that a person dropping out of the workforce early can have a devastating effect on their retirement income. We owe it to people to do everything possible toensure they can benefit from a full working life.’

Source:This  is Money UK

Posted by Judy Higgins on 30 July 2014

In workplaces all over the world, managers are for the first time dealing with the issues that arise when up to four generations work side by side.

Older workers stay on in employment for a variety of reasons. Some can’t afford to retire, others enjoy work and choose to continue, and in many cases mature employees want to build up their superannuation.

Organisations put themselves in a vulnerable position if they don’t have a profile of workers based on age and by section of the organisation. In an environment with an ageing population and ageing workforces, organisations need to be on the front foot. A profile of the age of your workers is essential, and a strategy to address retention and transition to retirement should now be part of any human resources strategy.

Talk to your older staff about their working plans. You will need to discuss:

  • How long they intend to continue working
  • Do they intend to keep working the same hours or slowly transition to retirement?
  • Will they be able to continue to do the same job for those years or will they need to re-train?
  • Developing an individual workplace plan

Critical to the effectiveness of this exercise is ensuring the discussion takes place in a non-threatening manner and that mature-age workers feel comfortable and confident to take part in the discussion. A carefully worded letter or memo should be sent to individuals from the Managing Director or CEO, advising them how valued they are and how serious the organisation is about retaining and working with employees who may be thinking about retiring.

Given that the age to access the age pension may rise to 70, considerations of older workers will be more important than ever. There are also many who will not want to work that long, and if they are some of your key people you need to know, and you need to have a strategy to address filling the gaps.

You must also make sure you have the policies and procedures in place to reflect that your company is sincere about valuing its older workers, and has the flexibility and trained managers to work in the best interests of all stakeholders. Companies that don’t do this well risk losing years of experience and knowledge that could be detrimental to their business.


Source:  The Living Well Navigator

What is
Age Discrimination?


You’ve probably felt it before; when someone defines your abilities by your age, or assumes you can’t contribute because you’re too young or that you wouldn’t understand because you’re too old. That’s age discrimination, and it’s getting worse.

Age discrimination can happen to us all, but it hits older Australians hardest. New research has shown us that if you are over 55, you are 47% more likely to lose your job, more likely to suffer from mental health issues and more likely to be lonely.

Age discrimination is happening even as Australians are living, working and staying active for longer. It is holding us back at a time when mature Australians are becoming more and more vital for Australian business as employers, employees, producers and consumers. Age discrimination forgets that older Australians are the engine rooms of our communities, volunteering more hours than anyone else in the country, and that their experience, wisdom and generosity provides positive role models for us all.

We are all getting older, so it’s time to stop age discrimination before it stops us. Help us to put the positivity back into ageing.


At Work


Workplaces are some of the biggest offenders when it comes to age discrimination. That just doesn’t make sense, because they have the most to gain from mature Australians.

Our recent research found that a 5% increase in workforce participation of people over 55 would add $48 billion to the Australian economy. But even though older Australians employees have billions of dollars worth of skills and experience, they are still the most likely to be let go.

If you are an employer, we want to help resource you to recognise the power of oldness. Download our pack, and start making your workplace Age Positive today.


Australian Human Rights Commission Age Position

Saturday Aug 16, 2014

Brian Gaynor on business Business Economy… Employment Opinion

Only Chile, Iceland, Mexico and Korea have a higher percentage of the 65-plus age group in the workforce than New Zealand, where increasingly more young adults are extending their education.
Only Chile, Iceland, Mexico and Korea have a higher percentage of the 65-plus age group in the workforce than New Zealand, where increasingly more young adults are extending their education.
The New Zealand workforce has changed dramatically over the past 24 years.

In mid-1990 our workforce was young and energetic with 338,500, or 22 per cent, of all employed workers in the 15 to 24 age bracket. By mid-2014 the total number of 15 to 24 year old workers had declined to 325,700 or just 14 per cent of the workforce.

This development has been mainly due to a dramatic increase in the number of 15 to 24-year-olds undertaking additional, post-secondary school education.

Meanwhile, the number of workers aged 65 and over has soared from 23,900 in 1990 to 127,500 in mid-2014. In other words individuals aged 65 and over now represent 5.5 per cent of the workforce compared with just 1.6 per cent 24 years ago.

Energetic grey-haired men and women have replaced young employees in shops, offices, medical centres and other areas of employment.

Based on current trends there is a strong possibility that by 2054 there will be more individuals from the 65- plus age group in full or part time employment than 15 to 24-year- olds.

This has major implications for our economy, NZ Superannuation and KiwiSaver.

The accompanying table shows how employment trends have changed since mid-1990, particularly as far as the 15 to 24 and the 65 and over age groups are concerned.

The first point to note is that the unemployment rate is the number of individuals who are actively looking for a job but cannot find one.

The second point is the participation rate, which is the percentage of an age group in the workforce, both employed and unemployed.

The participation rate for the 65 and over age group has soared from just 6.9 per cent in 1990 to 20.6 per cent in the June 2014 Household Labour Force Survey. The 65 years- plus male participation rate has risen from 10.6 per cent to 26.5 per cent while the female rate has increased from 4 per cent to 15.3 per cent over this 24-year period.

There are more elderly New Zealanders in the workforce than in most other countries. For example, our 65-plus participation rate is 20.6 per cent compared with 18.7 per cent in United States, 12.1 per cent in Australia and just 9.8 per cent in the United Kingdom. Europeans retire much earlier, with France, Germany, Italy and Spain having 65 years of age-plus workplace participation rates of 2.3 per cent, 5.5 per cent, 3.5 per cent and 1.8 per cent respectively.

Only Chile, Iceland, Mexico and Korea have a higher percentage of the 65-plus age group in the workforce than New Zealand.

There are a number of reasons why more and more of the 65-plus age group are remaining in the workforce.

These include:

• Health – individuals are healthier and living longer.

• Education – highly educated people work longer and our workforce is far better qualified than it was in 1990.

• Occupations – there are more and more clerical, non-manual jobs, that suit older workers.

• Financial – New Zealanders are concerned about their low level of savings and rising health costs, particularly health insurance.

• Rules and regulations – the removal of the mandatory retirement age in 1999 and the introduction of anti-discrimination rules as far as older workers are concerned.

• Family dynamics – a high percentage of women stay in the workforce until their husbands retire as do individuals, particularly women over 65, after a marriage breakup.

• Employer preferences – employers seem to have a liking for 65-plus-year-olds because this age group has a 1.6 per cent unemployment rate compared with 14 per cent for the 15 to 24 age group and 5.4 per cent for the total workforce.

But New Zealand Superannuation is one of the main reasons why such a high percentage of the population stay in the workforce after they reach 65 years of age.

NZ Super is relatively unique because it applies to everyone once they reach 65 years of age, is not subject to any income test or means test and is not contingent on retirement.

Thus, there is a strong incentive for individuals to stay in the workforce until they reach 65.

However, lowly paid workers are effectively incentivised to retire when they start receiving NZ Super because this represents a high percentage of their preretirement income.

Conversely, highly paid individuals have a strong incentive to stay in the workforce because NZ Super is neither income tested nor means tested and represents a much smaller per cent of their employment income.

In other words, NZ Super is an extremely effective culling system because it encourages unskilled workers to leave the workforce while enticing the highly skilled to stay.

In addition, most New Zealanders have the majority of their wealth tied up in residential property, which doesn’t generate income if it is the family home. Thus, they are incentivised to continue working because of the low level of income generated from their property-dominated investment portfolio.

What will be the long-term impact of KiwiSaver on the country’s workforce, particularly the number of 65-year-olds and over that will want to remain working?

Overseas studies show that individuals in a defined contribution superannuation scheme (a scheme where the outcome is unknown and is determined by investment returns) usually work longer than individuals who are in a defined benefit superannuation scheme (they received a fixed income every week or month regardless of investment returns).

As KiwiSaver is a defined contribution scheme it should not have a major impact on the willingness of our over 65s to continue working.

However, there is a strong argument that compulsory superannuation in Australia, which is also a defined contribution scheme, is encouraging our transtasman cousins to retire earlier because of the huge lump sums they have built up.

However, if employers here are willing to make a voluntary contribution to KiwiSaver schemes after their employees reach 65, it would be a huge incentive for New Zealanders to remain in the workforce.

Recent studies, particularly an AMP survey, indicate that a large percentage of KiwiSaver members want to use KiwiSaver to repay their mortgage and other borrowings. This suggests that KiwiSaver is not going to discourage the 65 years and over age group from remaining in the workforce.

There is no doubt that a greying workforce is a positive development for the New Zealand economy. This is because it helps retain our more highly skilled workers, it enables younger people to obtain additional education and it keeps the pressure off wage increases, inflation and interest rates.

However, one of the country’s main challenges is to raise our overall skills level, particularly in information technology where older workers have limited abilities.

It is depressing to note that 371,500 individuals, representing 16 per cent of the total workforce, have absolutely no formal qualifications, either school or post-school.

These individuals will find it increasingly difficult to find gainful employment in the modern economy.

Conversely, this gives the highly skilled 65-plus age group more and more opportunities to remain in the workforce.

Source: New Zealand Herald

Should turning 30 induce a panic attack over your employment prospects?
01 JUL 2014

Silicon Valley, the globally recognised pinnacle of technological innovation, is one of the most ageist places in the US, according to a recent article in the New Republic.

It claimed that an increasing number of 20-something tech workers in the Bay area of San Francisco are considering getting hair transplants, plastic surgery and Botox, so they don’t appear “old” to younger colleagues, prospective employers and venture capitalists obsessed with youth.

According to the US magazine, venture capitalists consider older entrepreneurs much less attractive, instead supporting their younger counterparts with millions on the chance their next big idea gives rise to a start-up that exceeds beyond expectations.

Keeping them happy are workplaces such as Dropbox, where workers scoot around the San Francisco headquarters on skateboards, play ping-pong into the night, and behave more like carefree college students than responsible, paid employees.

It’s a culture that’s at odds with the reality. In truth, more Americans over 55 are starting successful businesses than those in the 20-to-30-year age bracket, according to research from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

The age debate rages in Australia as well.

The federal Budget handed down in May proposed increasing the age at which you could access the age pension in Australia to 70 (currently it’s 65, rising to 67 in 2023). This is in contrast to the most recent data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which shows people who retired in the past five years quit work at an average age of 61.5.

Convincing companies to hire and retain older workers is a big challenge, which is why the recent Budget proposed an A$10,000 phased bonus for those who take on a 50+ worker.

So is the hard truth that, despite the best-intentioned efforts, when it comes to the workplace, youth still rules? Or is it just the digerati who are riding the youth wave?

Steve Crowe had more than a three-decade media career behind him when he attended a job interview at a publishing company.

“I thought the Italian suit was a good idea at the time,” the grey-haired 60-year-old says, “but when I walked in and saw these two guys in their 20s in ripped jeans and T-shirts, the uniform of the creative industry, I knew it was all over.”

The pair gave his CV a rudimentary glance and the whole interview lasted about three minutes. He didn’t get the job.

“Ageism is alive and well and it permeates beyond IT because of people’s subconscious biases against older people,” argues Associate Professor Julie Cogin, the deputy dean of the Australian School of Business at the University of New South Wales (UNSW).

In a common recruitment scenario – as in Crowe’s case – an older applicant is often passed over for a younger person going for the same position, because the HR manager believes that individual will not learn or adapt as quickly, they have a fixed mindset, they would not report happily to a younger boss and would take off more sick days.

“The point is these are prejudices and haven’t been validated by fact,” Cogin says.

Ageism is alive and well and it permeates beyond IT because of people’s subconscious biases against older people.
– Professor Julie Cogin, UNSW
“In some cases, research has confirmed the opposite.”

Last year a study of workers by Essex Business School in the UK challenged these perceptions, finding that age didn’t determine a person’s commitment and productivity levels at work. This research reinforced findings from two earlier studies of German car manufacturers; at one BMW factory an assembly line solely of workers over 50, for example, was 7 per cent more productive than one of younger workers.

Despite age discrimination being illegal in Australia, international recruitment company Hays still often receives requests from HR managers for “a young worker to fit into a team of 20-somethings”, says Kathy Kostyrko, one of the company’s directors based in Canberra.

“We give them a shortlist of diverse candidates, but then because of their bias, the mature age workers may not even be considered for an interview,” she says.

However, elsewhere attitudes are slowly changing, Kostyrko adds, and many employers are happy to offer jobs to older workers.

“Thankfully, for executive positions and senior roles, a bit of grey hair is seen as an advantage and evidence that you have the skills and knowledge required,” she says.

“Really an employee’s attitude is everything. You could have an enthusiastic 70-year-old, willing to be engaged in the company, or a 30-year-old who is sitting back and complaining.”

Kostyrko says there is cause for hope as the community sector and specific employers such as Bunnings and Westpac are forging ahead against ageism.

Jane Counsel, head of diversity at Westpac, says that because one in five of their employees is over 50, the bank has progressively become more conscious of these “prime of life” workers’ needs and the importance of mapping their futures.

“We want to look at their careers, assist them with financial planning and transition to retirement,” she says.

These employees are in a mixture of roles ranging from head office, to frontline sales, commercial and retail banking, and reflect Westpac’s ageing client base.

And contrary to the New Republic report, Silicon Valley does show support for its relative elders, insists Melbourne-born Ned Dwyer, 31, founder of web design start-up Elto.

He recently moved to San Francisco and reckons the emphasis on youth is largely a media beat-up – and an exception, not the rule.

“Really, once you turn 30 it doesn’t mean you’ve passed your use-by date,” says Dwyer who appeared on the 2014 INTHEBLACK Young Business Leaders list.

He adds that companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and VSCO Cam (a camera app similar to Instagram) are businesses that hire more mature employees and have facilities to cater for their needs.

“Some start-ups who are at the early stage of development may still have that ‘beer-pong’ fraternity feel about them, but many more established tech companies have a family-friendly culture with daycare centres, family days out in the park and are happy to be super-flexible,” Dwyer says.

So cancel that nip ’n’ tuck.

Grey power
Attitudes towards mature workers vary across the world, says Dr Keri Spooner, a senior lecturer in the School of Management at the University of Technology, Sydney.

“Older people are venerated for their knowledge in Asian cultures,” she says.

“In countries such as China or Thailand, with compulsory retirement ages, most workers look forward to retirement as an entitlement.”

In Germany, with a low birth rate and an impending skills shortage, companies are taking measures such as offering longer holidays and more flexible work arrangements in a bid to dissuade older skilled workers from retiring.

Finland, with Europe’s most rapidly ageing population, is a trailblazer. Its national “active ageing” policy to ensure people stay in the workforce longer has given rise to flexible working arrangements, healthy workplaces, lifelong learning, well-developed care systems (for children, grandchildren and aged care) and retirement saving schemes.

Age against the machine
Companies such as Google Australia – despite its youthful image – hire people of diverse ages to assist their wide range of customers.

“Age does not matter at Google. Ideas and energy do, and of course age can influence both of those,” says Raul Vera, a senior engineer at the company.

Julie Cogin of the Australian School of Business says that the best employers celebrate multi-generational workforces.

“In many cases we are now seeing as many as four generations in a workplace and they can all learn from each other,” she says.

“It’s interesting because often the needs of the 55+-year-olds are similar to those in their early 20s. They aren’t driven by financial rewards, they have other motivations.”

Many older workers want flexibility, so they can support their children, assist in the care of their grandchildren or their own parents. Many are also happy to step out of the day-to-day operations of the business a bit more and act as a coach or mentor, to pass on some of their company knowledge, experience and wisdom.

This article is from the July 2014 issue of INTHEBLACK