Advantages of Retaining Older Workers

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Encouraging older workers to remain in the workforce has many advantages along with some disadvantages for both the employee and the workforce in general. The term older worker refers to workers aged sixty-five and over. Older workers are an invaluable asset to the Australian workforce. Through age and life experience older workers hold great knowledge and wisdom in which they are able to pass onto the younger generation. Traditionally there was an age where people retired, however people these days people are now living longer. Therefore the time spent in retirement has also increased. This means people today will have to work longer than ever before to cover the costs of their retirement. This essay will outline why Australia needs to retain older workers in the workforce, why older people are staying in the workforce for longer and discuss some of the advantages and disadvantages associated with encouraging older workers to stay in the workforce for longer.

Australia’s decreasing birthrate and an ever-increasing life expectancy has caused the Australian Government as well as employers to become increasingly concerned about how the distribution of the population within the workforce will affect the Australian economy. Presently the net growth of the Australian workforce is 170,000 people each year. Access Economics has estimated that over the decade 2020 to 2030, the Australian workforce is expected to only grow by only 125,000 people. That averages a mere 12,500 people per year. The ramifications for Australia are clear, new entrants will simply not provide enough manpower to the workforce to meet expected demand. (Andrews, K 2003) This demographic shift means the workforce will need to rely more on older workers in the near future, as Australia can no longer afford to waste the valuable resources that older workers contribute to businesses, the economy and society in general. Older workers will be crucial to the success of many companies in the future, and contribute greatly to the profitability and the survival of these companies.

Australia’s need to encourage older workers to stay in the workforce for longer, will mean employers will need to structure the work environment in such a way as to fit in with the activities that older people are wanting to do. “The main reason why older workers retire or leave the workforce is to pursue new activities.” (Future of Work) While the government is encouraging people to work longer if they can, beyond traditional retirement ages, older workers are unlikely to respond to that call unless work can be more flexible and better organised to take account of what they want to do with their time. Many older workers don’t want to give up working all together and would prefer to work part time so they can still earn an income whilst having the flexibility to peruse new activities. The Government as a policy-setter and as an employer will need to meet this demand, just as the corporate sector will, by increasing workplace flexibility in order to encourage older workers to remain in the workforce for longer.

2005 figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that grandparents are delivering childcare services to more than 660,000 children nation wide. This information has lead the ACT Chief Minister Mr John Stanhope to agree with the need for the restructure of workforce practices inorder to encourage older workers to remain in the workforce for longer and in particuar older workers within the ACT public service sector. Mr Stanhope says that “Our ageing workforce, and our need to retain older workers for longer, means that over time we will need to provide working conditions that better suit mature-age workers.” Mr Stanhope also believes that a side benefit of having more flexible working arrangements will also encourage retention of younger staff because they will see that their employers can be open and adaptable to change and work-life balance. “We need to ensure...
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