Research conducted by Frog Recruitment, has shown that while many New Zealand companies recognise the growing importance of older workers, many workplaces are unprepared for dealing with them.
Frog Recruitment Director, Jane Kennelly, said the survey involved HR managers from large New Zealand businesses representing a combined work force of approximately 15,000 employees.
“The survey results showed that 83% of workplaces consider the aging workforce as being of high importance to their future staffing,” Jane said.
“One respondent even went so far as to say that they were completely over Generation Y which is also seen as a critical issue for many companies.
“However, the survey results showed that while organisations are aware of the value of the older workforce, the majority of workplaces don’t believe they have the strategies in place to maximise opportunities in this area.
“As a result, organisations are now starting to focus on developing dedicated strategies to deal with the older workforce”.
Survey respondents said they believe that older workers keep stability and provide a good balance to younger staff members.
According to Statistics New Zealand, by 2012, half of the New Zealand workforce will be older than 42, compared with an average age of 39 in 2001 and 36 in 1991. From 2006 to 2021, the labour force over the age of 65 is expected to increase from 61,000 to more than 100,000.
“Overseas research shows that older workers are likely to stay in jobs for longer, and have lower levels of absenteeism than younger workers,” Jane said.
“Older workers are also generally past the age of having young dependent children, and have less social commitments than their younger counterparts, resulting in fewer sick days.
“The direct result for employers is lower turnover costs, reduced absenteeism and increased staff loyalty, all of which impacts directly on profitability.”
She said that in order to take advantage of the increasingly important employment pool of older workers, employers need to tailor their employment conditions to accommodate their needs.
“The Retirement Commission of New Zealand says that from the age of 60, people have a greater balance between work, family and leisure, meaning that part-time work and flexible working hours are favoured.”
Research by the EEO Trust supports this, with 66% of people being encouraged to continue working past their expected retirement date by quality part-time work, and 64% through flexible working hours.
Jane said older workers also place value on education about planning for retirement something which can be provided by employers in the form of seminars, saving schemes, and transition schemes to ease workers into retired life.
“With the increasing age of our workforce, the brain drain phenomenon taking young workers to overseas markets, and the lack of skills in our workplace, employers need to embrace the older worker and tailor employment conditions to suit.
“People need to make their workplace older and bolder for the future.”
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