It's clear that Australia's population is ageing. The Australian Human Rights Commission estimates that by 2050, one quarter of Australians will be aged 65 years or older. Australia's shifting demographics means that the ratio of workers supporting mature aged Australians is declining. This places an emphasis on extending workforce participation and delaying retirement, in order to reduce the dependence of the non-working population on the working population.

As Australia's population increasingly skews older, there will be more mature aged workers available in the job market. Mature aged Australians hold enormous potential, and effectively mobilising them in the workforce could not only significantly improve company productivity, but also boost Australia's overall economic productivity. A Deloitte Access Economics report states that even just a 5 per cent increase in workforce participation from Australians aged 55 years or older could pump an additional $48 billion annually into the economy.

The increased presence of senior Australians in the workforce presents both opportunities and challenges for organisations. Mature aged workers are valuable additions to any workforce, however there are some hurdles that will need to be overcome in order to effectively engage and retain these experienced workers.

Challenges

- Overcoming Discrimination
A major barrier that senior Australians face when applying for work is age discrimination. Some common negative stereotypes held against senior Australians, include their inability to learn new things, their resistance to change, and the decreased quality of their work due to their deteriorating health. Even though these stereotypes are largely unfounded, these negative perceptions can prevent mature aged Australians from securing work or progressing further in their career, even if they possess the necessary skills, experiences, and qualifications. It has been reported that almost one third of older Australians have experienced age discrimination while employed or during their search for employment.
In order to reap the benefits of employing older Australians, organisations need to make a concerted effort in establishing an inclusive work environment, that is free from bias and bases employment on the individual merit of candidates. This can be done through the implementation of policies outlining and reinforcing the provision of equal employment opportunities (EEO), training and educating management, and regularly reviewing company procedures, operations and policies to identify factors that could hinder mature aged Australians from working.

- Technology
Due to the ever evolving nature of technology and its increasing ubiquity in most industries, it can be difficult for mature aged workers to adjust to the changes. This may be especially true if they are re-entering the workforce after a significant amount of time. Technology has also been responsible for rendering many roles obsolete, so the skill sets that some mature aged workers possess may no longer be applicable. To keep mature aged workers in employment, the bridging of this skills gap will need to be a top priority.
Senior Australians are often painted as being closed off to the adoption of new technology, however this is not based on reality. Older workers are very receptive to expanding and building upon their skill sets, and the provision of ongoing training and regular learning opportunities will help facilitate this.
It is also important to ensure that training is tailored to the specific needs of older workers. Training courses should be flexible and adaptable to the ranging skill levels of older workers. Usually, the best option is to provide training online, as it allows mature aged workers to complete work at a pace that suits them, and in an environment that they are comfortable in.

- Health Concerns
As life expectancy increases and employees continue to work for longer,  the status of their health may become a concern. Generally, mature aged workers are in good physical condition and more than capable of carrying out their work, with 75.5% of Australian aged 55-64 reporting their health as 'good', 'very good' or 'excellent' in an ABS survey. Research has also shown that mature-aged workers were the least likely to be absent due to illness.
Despite this, it is still important that workplaces are able to adjust and accommodate to the needs of older workers.
For example, adjustments can be as small as providing ergonomic furniture and equipment to relieve some of the physical strain caused by a typical work day. Also, providing older workers with flexible work options is a good way to keep older workers productive, healthy and in the workplace longer.
Making these adjustments in the workplace to support older workers, can make a significant impact on productivity, performance and employee retention.

Opportunities

- Experience and Expertise
Due to the length of time that they have been in the workforce, mature aged workers usually have an extensive amount of experience under their belt. Over the years, older workers often build up a wealth of knowledge, have refined their skills and become experts in certain elements of their professional lives.
This is invaluable for any business as they can help fill skill and knowledge gaps, provide new and well-informed insights into the business, and create better outcomes for the business.
Employing older workers is also beneficial, because since they are rich sources of knowledge, they can help to collectively raise the skills in the organisation. This is because older workers can share the information that they have learnt and act as mentors to more inexperienced employees.

- Loyalty & Hard Work
Employing mature-aged workers is a good investment for businesses as they are less likely than their younger counterparts to suddenly jump ship and move on to another company. Senior workers are more stable and tend to exhibit much more loyalty to the company that employs them. The low levels of staff turnover amongst this group, means that the time and resources spent on their recruitment and training is a safer bet, as the employment of older workers is more likely to provide long term benefits for the company.
Older workers also tend to exhibit more dedication and commitment to their job, since they typically have more time available to focus on their work and take great pride in what they produce.

Labour Hire: Helping Senior Australians Find Work

A potential solution for older Australians seeking employment, is to join a labour hire agency. Labour hire agencies are beneficial, as recruitment is purely based on the merits of the individual and their suitability for the available role. Labour hire agencies help to minimise the potential barriers that older Australians face, as they vouch for their abilities to the client.
Also, joining a labour hire agency is beneficial for mature-aged workers because work is brought directly to them. Labour hire agencies help to take the work out of searching for a job and could potentially connect them employment much faster than expected.

Are you looking for a labour hire agency to take care of the hiring process for you? Look no further than Workfast Labour Hire! At Workfast Labour Hire we have an extensive database of workers with a range of skills, qualifications and experiences, so we can help connect you with a quality labour hire worker that best matches your job description. Call us on 1300 824 403 or fill out our Labour Hire Staff Request Form today and we'll get the ball rolling!

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