Creating An Age Inclusive Workplace

There is no official retirement age in New Zealand (with some exceptions).

People are free to keep working in any capacity as long as they wish or need to. That said, the term older workers generally mean people in their 50’s and beyond. The population of New Zealand is changing. Around 34% of the current population is aged 50 and over and this proportion will grow to around 37.5% (or 2.1 million people) by 2033.

The dynamics of our workforce is also undergoing significant change.

Creating An Age Inclusive Workplace

More than one in three workers are now aged over 50 up from 17% in the 1980’s. This is projected to reach 35% by 2038. Over the same period, the proportion of workers under 34 will decrease from 49% of the workforce in 1988 to 33% by 2033.

This fundamental shift is already impacting in some sectors and regions as people exit the workforce or want and need to engage in different ways.

We are witnessing skill shortages, and increased costs to attract, recruit and retain talent. Business risks include the loss of critical skills, experience, and knowledge, not to mention increased health, safety, and wellbeing issues. Many factors influencing this, especially in the current Covid environment.

At one extreme we have overt ageism, where we categorise people based on age and stereotypical thinking or unconscious bias. At a more subtle level, the way we think about age and ageing at work can affect the day-to-day decisions we make.  Especially when making all-important decisions regarding our people when recruiting, restructuring, promoting, designing work, training, etc.

The global evidence is clear – the two groups most impacted by age bias are older workers and younger workers.

Almost all clients we are currently working with rate talent acquisition, recruitment, and retention as their biggest pain point.

Unable to find the right people for key positions, leads to long term vacancies in the business and extra stress, pressure, and workload on the existing team. This is a major business risk and cost, not only in terms of dollars but the morale, engagement, and general wellbeing of staff.

Considering a strategy of age inclusion across all life stages can be an untapped source for growth and innovation in the workplace. Demographic and market changes will increasingly require workplaces to adapt to the needs of a multi-generational workforce and in particular an older workforce.

The Government Employment Strategy  recognises that good employment outcomes are influenced by a range of Government policy settings. It describes how the Government is intending to improve employment outcomes through the range of reforms it has underway to:

  • build a skilled workforce
  • support industries and regions to thrive  
  • support workplaces to modernise
  • support workers and businesses to be resilient and adaptable in the face of the changing nature of work
  • support more inclusive employment

The strategy sets out a roadmap for a series of Action Plans to ensure that those who consistently experience poor labour market outcomes have the support they need develop their skills and achieve their potential with fulfilling careers.

An opportunity to support fresh thinking in how approach seeking out hidden talent, is to be involved in the consultation process on the Older Workers Employment Action Plan (OWEAP). The goal of the OWEAP is to ensure that all older workers (workers aged 50+) can access work that meets their needs and also fulfils the needs of employers on the hunt for their next valued worker.

Talk to us about creating an Age Inclusive Workplace and reducing your business risk. 

Leonie Walwork Change Strategist Workplace Wellness

Leonie Wallwork

Leonie is a Change Strategist with Workplace Wellness and Associate with Partners in Change Partners 

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