With the government's recent announcement that it plans to raise the age of eligibility for New Zealand Superannuation to 67 by 2040, the issue of older people's place in the workforce has been in the public eye. With the baby boomer generation gets closer to retirement and the number of people approaching the labour market's 'entry ages' (15 to 19) declining, Careers NZ points out that mature workers (55 and over) will play an increasingly important role in the country's labour market.
When looking to hire temporary or permanent recruits, a candidate's age is sometimes a factor that companies view negatively. However, older workers have a lot to offer New Zealand's skilled labour market, and should not be disregarded.
Older workers have a lot to offer New Zealand's skilled labour market.
New Zealand's attitudes towards mature workers
According to a recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), New Zealand is doing well when it comes to making the most of older workers. The finance company ranked New Zealand near the top of a list of 34 countries for the positive impact workers aged over 55 have on our labour market, and how New Zealand has managed to make the most of the economic power of older workers.
However, despite this, many older workers find it difficult to get hired due to their age. The New Zealand Herald reports that age discrimination is a significant issue, citing examples of qualified, capable workers applying for tens or even hundreds of jobs, but failing to make and progress when recruiters found out they were over 50. Diversity Works New Zealand agrees with this analysis, saying that older workers are more likely to become long-term unemployed, and that negative stereotypes around older workers are a barrier to them getting jobs.
These stereotypes of mature workers as inflexible or out of date present an unfair picture, as there are tangible benefits for companies who take on older workers. Let's look at some of the qualities they can bring to a workplace.
Experience and leadership
For the most part, mature workers will have spent more time working in their particular field than their younger counterparts. According to the New Zealand Herald, older workers bring a high level of experience and knowledge to a job, which is good not only for the company, but for the younger employees who can receive mentorship and guidance from their older coworkers. Entrepreneur.com agrees, saying that older workers set an example for newer employees, which makes training them less difficult.
Older workers bring a high level of experience and knowledge to a job.
It's worth acknowledging that a strength of older workers is their maturity. As Entrepreneur.com points out, older workers' increased life and work experience makes them less likely to be rattled by problems that might come up on a worksite. This further benefits their younger, less experienced co-workers, who get to see an example of how to deal with a situation they would otherwise be unprepared for.
A committed work ethic
Another valuable asset mature workers bring to a company is their work ethic and engagement. An international study by the Sloan Center on Aging and Work at Boston College found that workers who were 40 and older had the highest level of commitment to their organisation and the most engagement with their role.
In 2009, Pew Research conducted a study looking at the difference in attitude between generations. It found that about three-quarters of those surveyed (who ranged in age) thought that older people had a better work ethic than younger generations.
How can you hold on to experienced older workers?
For companies who want to attract – and more importantly retain – older workers, there are steps you can take to encourage them to join and stay with your company. Careers NZ recommends establishing more age-friendly employment policies, and suggests the following:
Make sure that your hiring managers understand New Zealand's ageing population, and what it means for the labour market.
Offer training and re-skilling opportunities that are aimed at older workers.
Use age-friendly language in job descriptions or advertisements, so you don't unintentionally put off older candidates.
Consider offering part-time or job-sharing options to accommodate older workers who are unwilling or unable to commit to a full-time role.
Younger workers bring their own value to workplaces, and shouldn't be overlooked in favour of older employees. But as the population ages, workers over 55 will account for an increasing proportion of the potential candidates available for labour, construction and manufacturing jobs. Rather than seeing this as a cause for concern, employers would do well to embrace all the skills and benefits that candidates of all ages can bring to their workforce.
If you're unsure of how to engage the experienced candidates you're after, then Tradestaff can help to manage your company's recruitment process. We work to match the best possible candidates with employers who need them, making sure you're getting the temporary or permanent staff you need to get the job done.
To find out more about how we can help solve your staffing needs, get in touch with your local Tradestaff branch today.
almost 5 years ago by Will Percy