Australia’s ageing population has significantly increased over recent years, and estimates show that by the end of the next decade, one in three Australians will be aged over 55.

What, then, can employers do to nurture and benefit from an ageing workforce?

The key, says Australian HR Institute news site HRM, is “to challenge the stereotype that mature-aged workers are set in their ways, resistant to change, and ready to stop working.

“Instead, employers should focus on creating a culture that caters to the needs of all ages, as well as fostering intergenerational exchanges.”

This can be improved in three ways:

1. Offer more flexible work arrangements

Many companies actively promote flexible work arrangements for new parents and disabled workers, but few do so for mature-age workers.

Even so, the Fair Work Act 2009 specifically states that workers who are 55 years or older can request flexible work arrangements.

Actively promoting flexible work opportunities such as job-share arrangements or phased retirement options will better support older workers who are not yet ready to retire or have no desire to retire.

This could promote greater workforce productivity, help to transfer business and operational knowledge, and help retain highly-skilled and experienced staff.

2. Help employees plan early for retirement

Many older workers have no desire to retire and would welcome a phased transition to retirement.

Employers can accommodate these workers by taking the initiative to discuss their plans for the future.

Such discussions could include information on financial planning, caring for mental and emotional health, and other practical ways to prepare for retirement.

This can make the transition to retirement smoother and less daunting.  

3. Promote mentoring programs

When older workers leave the workforce, companies face the daunting prospect of losing the person’s valuable knowledge and skills.

Hence, smart employers encourage older workers to mentor younger workers, so they can capitalise on their experience and organisational knowledge.

Mentoring programs among multi-aged work teams can also prevent intergenerational conflict and dispel negative perceptions about older or younger workers.

Older workers can be a valuable asset, not a burden, if employers take the initiative to nurture them properly.

Conclusion

Employers can benefit older workers—and themselves—by (1) promoting flexible work arrangements, (2) helping workers plan early for retirement, and (3) developing mentoring programs.

 

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