It seems that Australia is changing its attitude towards older employees, and for the better.
In a recent report by the Australian HR Institute and the Australian Human Rights Commission, 28% of respondents in the AHRI report had no reluctance to employ older workers, up from 8% in 2014. While that number is still far from ideal, it is improving.
There’s also a good awareness of what older workers bring to the table. According to respondents, the main advantages that older workers offer are the experience they bring (76%) and the professional knowledge they’ve acquired (68%).
So how can you support your older workers to bring out this experience and expertise?
- Adjust roles and work environments to suit changing needs
Considering the fact that recruiting a new employee can cost upwards of half the salary of their role, it pays to keep knowledgeable workers around whenever you can. Your performance reviews are a great time to check in with older workers (and really every age and ability) to see if there are any changes they might need putting in place. This could include modifications in a physical sense such as improved lighting or ergonomic office equipment, or redesigning job roles so that employee’s experience can be put to use in a different area of the business.
- Be flexible about work arrangements
Providing alternative work arrangements can help to support employees in many circumstances, including parents, employees with disabilities and older workers. Many people reaching retirement age will be weighing up whether to stay in the workforce or simply retire and embrace their free time for travel or family. By providing flexible work options like remote working, job sharing or a transition-to-retirement strategy, you can provide the flexibility for older workers to enjoy freedom and purpose while keeping their valuable knowledge within your organisation. It’s a win-win for all.
- Consider co-working mentorships
34% of the AHRI survey respondents said they perceived no difference between the technology skills and abilities of older and younger workers. That still leaves quite a gap for older workers to catch up on, with things like social media marketing and new software. But older workers often have unique qualities to share too – qualities like interpersonal skills, rock-solid work ethic and resilience. You might consider pairing older and younger employees together in a co-working mentorship, supported of course with ongoing training for your team or departments.
Supporting and retaining your most experienced employees can play a key role in your strategic human resource management. If you’d like help aligning your human resources with your current and future needs, a HR service provider such as PerformHR can help. We provide a number of services to support your organisation’s employee relations model.