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Panpa Bulletin : July 2007
28 PANPA Bulletin July 2007 commentary Catriona Byrne puts forward a case and examines strategies for keeping mature age workers in the light of many organisations seeing them as a liability or a 'problem' to be ad- dressed. The newspaper/publishing/printing in- dustry is no di erent to any other sectors when it comes to the issues of retention, retirement and knowledge continuity. These challenges are shared by all organisations and corporations when it comes to the mature age workforce. The actual age that the Federal Government quotes as being the "Mature Age Workforce" is anyone over the age of 45. Pity the plight of our mature age work- ers; they are undergoing an identity crisis. Just five to 10 years ago, they were easy targets for early retirement via redundan- cy. They could even put up their hands and help ease their company's headcount headache. Now they are set to become the recruiter's darling, a highly sort after prize in a diminishing candidate pool. Line managers are nervously asking them of their retirement intentions and begging them to stay a little longer -- propelled by the risk of knowledge loss and the difficulty of replacing the departing employee. There's much talk about the ageing workforce -- the implications on the work- force of a demographic swing caused by lower birth rates and retirement of baby boomers. However, how many organisa- tions understand the merits of talking to their ageing workforce? Do they even know who they are, where they are and how many make up staff numbers? It seems there are still many organisations overwhelmed by the issue and just don't know start? Progressive organisations are chunking down the 'age management' journey into tangible steps, which often starts with a demographic audit. Who are our 'mature age workers'? Where are they working? What are they doing? When are they retir- ing? Who is being promoted? How many are there? Having identified this group, whose exit rate is set to increase markedly over the next 10 years, the next step is possibly talking with them and perhaps imple- menting surveys and focus groups. What do they value? Why would they choose to leave or stay? What would they find helpful in planning their retirement? This is a vital activity for informing the age management plan. The process can reveal the unspoken generational stereotypes held within an organisation. Companies need to create or re-establish a culture that values the mature worker. If their his- tory is one of large-scale redundancies of baby boomers, coupled with recruitment targets in the Gen X and Gen Y age bands, it can be a big hurdle. Identifying who your mature work- ers are can help the implementation of retention programs to reduce the risk of knowledge loss and maintain a balanced workforce. Knowing when people are contemplating retirement makes it pos- sible to help employees re-evaluate their retirement and explore flexible work options. Understanding recruitment patterns makes it possible to educate in-house recruitment teams and line managers so as to overcome stereotypes and prove the bottom line value of a bal- anced workforce. There are still too many organisations who don't even know they might have a problem. Others know, however, they're not feeling the pain yet so other pro- grams take priority. It is simply too late to wait for a mass exodus and see what will happen. Get the statistics, uncover the risk and get started. Most age management initiatives can dovetail into existing HR programs and operational processes. Hopefully, this won't be just another HR program or fad. For more information visit www.sageco.com.au Retaining mature age workers -- boom or bust? By Catriona Byrne, Director, SageCo Pity the plight of our mature age workers: they are undergoing an identity crisis. Just ve to 10 years ago, they were easy targets for early retirement via redundancy. They could even put up their hands and ease their companys' headcount headache. THE CASE FOR HIRING MATURITY • For every one new labour market entrant, there are seven available over the age of 45. • Employees aged 45+ will stay with an organisation 2.4 times longer on average than under 45s. • Hiring maturity means cost savings with improved retention, decreased absenteeism and lower attrition. • The population is ageing, so it’s highly likely that customers will be more inclined to purchase products and services from organisations committed to hiring maturity. WHAT ARE THE FACTS? • 4.1million Australians will retire over next decade. • The average retirement age is 59. • The frst of the baby boomers reached age 55 in 2002. • 90 per cent retire and take their knowledge with them. • The labour force participation rate of women aged 55+ is one in three. • Gen X and Y turnover is 2.4 times higher than baby boomers. • Eighty fve per cent of new labour market growth to comes from 45+ group.
August September 2007