The Ageing Workplace
Well you know the old adage age is just a number but that’s unless you want to work
Now despite unemployment being at an all-time low in Australia ageism still persists in the workplace but new research suggests that times could be changing let’s bring in our career expert Sue Ellson in Melbourne so good morning to you this is some good news some positive signs what did the research find
Yes this is a report from the Australian Human Resources Institute the Australian Human Rights Commission and it’s called the Employing and Retaining Older Workers Report and what they’ve actually shown is that there’s been an increase in employee shortages but unfortunately a decrease in older workers who are being employed the good news is the participation rate has increased so the number of people aged 55 to 64 has increased and employers are also looking at more flexible work practices so some good and bad in it
Yeah, so it can be difficult for older workers to actually find the work so are there any signs that companies are becoming less ageist?
Well I think they realize during the pandemic that older workers can use technology which is fantastic it’s also meant that 52 percent of employers in this report have reduced the age limitation of new workers and they’ve Incorporated older workers in their diversity equity and inclusion strategy and I think there’s a lot more awareness about unconscious bias now as well
Interesting, talk us through the benefits that we know of of hiring older workers?
Well it’s really great that they have higher concentration levels, they’re likely to be much more reliable they’ve got these amazing skills and experience and knowledge that they can bring and anybody who’s watched The Intern movie would be well aware that obviously there’s a lot of intrinsic benefits of having older people in the workplace
So I mean could older workers fill this gap because unemployment is at a record low?
Um look it’s it’s interesting because a few things need to change first some of of the recruitment strategies are not suitable for those older workers some employers will have a training budget for younger workers but not for older workers not many Older Workers are being encouraged to train new older workers and yeah there’s just a few anomalies there so I think some things have to change before it’s going to get better but there’s definitely scope for if those things were implemented then
Obviously a lot more older workers could come in and meet the demands okay so what is then your best advice for more mature people wanting to break back into the workforce?
Well definitely they need to be up to date with the latest job search strategies so that means networking referrals and creating an online presence I would definitely encourage them to update their technological skills the World Economic Forum has shown some a lot of those technical roles they’re increasing a lot of the non-technical roles are decreasing they could definitely look at understanding how to perform in prompted video interviews and how to do online gaming assessments and perhaps some of the older workers who who are very highly competent one area may need to actually consider a career change to make sure that they’re meeting the needs and budgets of employers now
Great advice again Sue thanks for being on the show good to see you thank you stay with us still to come...
Research on Employing and Retaining Older Workers that has been completed by the Australian Human Resources Institute and the Australian Human Rights Commission four times since 2014 and the latest results were released on 1 May 2023.
Unfortunately it shows that despite an increase in employee shortages, there has been a decrease in the number of older workers securing work and that there are still ageist employment practices in some Australian workplaces.
However, the good news is that the participation rate for people aged between 55 and 64 has increased and employers are becoming more enthusiastic about other forms of flexible working.
The pandemic has proven that older workers can now learn how to use new technology and 52% of employers have removed any age restriction on hiring new workers. Some employers include the number of older workers in their diversity, equity and inclusion strategy goals. I also believe there is a greater awareness of unconscious bias nowadays.
Sadly, there are still employers who believe that an older worker may have lower levels of physical ability and technological skills and that they may be reluctant to change. Ironically, 69% of HR professionals in this report said that the younger workers and older workers perform equally well.
Not only do older workers perform equally well, they have higher levels of concentration, they have a range of existing experience and professional knowledge and they are considered more reliable. By recruiting older workers, you can also increase the overall age diversity within an organisation.
It would be great to see employers would need provide more inclusive recruitment strategies and allocate a similar training budget for newly arrived older workers and at least the same training budget as what they currently have for younger workers. Existing older workers could be invited to train new older workers and some highly competent older workers may need to consider a career change so that they can meet the current needs and budgets of employers.
Older workers need to make sure they are using the latest job search strategies, including networking, referrals and creating an online presence. Many will need to update their technological skills and move from understanding the technology to using the technology effectively. It is also worth understanding all of the new recruitment practices from online prompted video interviews to gamified online assessments. Finally, I would just add to be persistent and to keep learning.
Links, References and Statistics
Australian HR Institute Research
Australian Human Resources Institute and Australian Human Rights Commission Employing and Retaining Older Workers Report 1 May 2023
The Future of Jobs Report 2023 from the World Economic Forum 30 April 2023
Engaging older workers important part of DEI 21 April 2023