At a forum opened by Treasurer, Wayne Swan, and chaired by Age Discrimination Commissioner, Susan Ryan, over 90 big business leaders and decision makers considered the Deloitte Report,Increasing participation among older workers: The Grey Army Advances report, prepared for the Australian Human Rights Commission by Deloitte Access Economics.
The report highlights the impact on the national economy of increasing mature-age workforce participation.
Representatives across a wide range of business sectors proposed the following actions to recruit and retain older workers:
- Get rid of generational labelling. The Gen X Gen Y Baby-boomer labels are destructive and negative stereotypes
- Managers at all levels must support the employment and retention of older workers
- Move away from the mindset of needing ‘young and hungry’ workers. Employers should properly explore the skills and capabilities of workers, regardless of age
- All workers must confront their unconscious bias against older workers
- Think differently about the way work is organised and change the structure of the workplace to reflect this; create flexible workplaces where people can work different hours to meet the needs of family and transition toretirement
- Recognise that older customers prefer older service personnel
- Recognise and reward long service in the workplace
- Focus on succession planning – develop a key person strategy
- Share knowledge across age groups – two way mentoring
- Promote internal mobility and redeployment
- Reward innovation that better utilises older workers
- Promote volunteering and charitable activities
- Assist life planning and transition to retirement
- Focus on health and well-being in the workplace
- Take cross-sectoral approaches to keeping older people in work, for example transitioning older construction workers to retail or aged care
- Focus on experience – not labels of older worker or mature age
- Employers must understand the demographics and skills of their workforce
- Retain the workforce and skills you already have
- Train older workers into new occupations
- Introduce and support mid-later career planning beyond the annual performance review. Consider 5 year cycles of work planning
- Promote stories about older workers and what they are achieving
- Support lifelong learning, skills development and a mix of accredited and non-accredited training
- Resolve workers compensation barriers.
- Encourage recruiters to include mature workers Improve job advertisements so they don’t exclude older workers
- Provide support for older candidates so they can present as job ready and suitable
- Move away from accredited training requirement to look at skills sets available and prior learning.
- Recognise life long careers – flexibility, education – need to address attitudinal and practical issues.
- Pursue better linkages between education and employment
- Introduce a program of mass IT reskilling – and/or address the perception that older workers don’t have the required skills.
- Elevate age discrimination to the same level as gender discrimination. Legislation should be strengthened
- Present empirical data about the benefits of older workers to encourage the recruitment of older workers
- Address the lowered confidence levels in older workers – and package their strengths
- Don’t assume that all senior level employees have good job search skills
- Get rid of standard rejection letter – it is not personal and reinforces rejection.
Final messages to all employers:
Take these actions;
- Showcase the good news stories; and
- Analyse your workplace and take stock of your older workers.