Mature workers play vital role in business performance

| August 17, 2020

Over the last 10 years, we have seen constant change in the way that businesses deal with their employee workforce. We are also in the middle of the baby boomer generation heading rapidly towards retirement (the first baby boomer turn 65 in 2011 and now in Australia over 5000 people per week are reaching what are used to be retirement age).

Of course, many baby boomers are no longer retiring at 65 and many are continuing to work well into their 70s – way beyond what was traditionally the age of retirement. This is an even more interesting dynamic as most baby boomers are already fairly wealthy and their retirement is already well funded (if you purchased residential real estate in Sydney or Melbourne back in the 1970’s when most baby boomers did – you would already be a millionaire).

At the same time businesses are dealing differently with employees – flexible working hours, the gig economy and working from home have increased gradually over the last decade but have rapidly accelerated due to COVID-19. Professional service firms now have the majority of their workforce working remotely and many are undergoing massive change to their business model – probably some of that change permanently.

Ageing workers have always been important to business owners – they hold vast experience, expertise, knowledge and key relationships vital to business success and so the challenge has always been how to retain these people, keep them motivated and engaged whilst also making room for up-and-coming younger employees to take on key roles.

Business succession planning (not just ownership succession but also management succession) is vital to managing this successfully – older workers are typically both mentally and physically fitter and healthier than previous generations at the same age. The thought of retiring at 65 to live for another 20 years is not attractive to most baby boomers they are rightly concerned about life after business and the key risk is actually boredom. Utilising their skill, experience and knowledge is critical to business performance and a properly designed succession plan can factor in flexible working arrangements, including long-term part time involvement, to take advantage of the experience and education they can offer to younger employees.

In the same way the technological and communication changes brought about by COVID allow for far more flexible work from home/remote arrangements which often suit part-time retirees.

Perhaps the way of the future is not to work 40 or 50 hours a week and then suddenly retire but more to transition from full-time work to 3 or four days per week and then ultimately even to one or two days per week for several years post typical retirement age – that’s giving both the business and the aging employee the best of both worlds.

How does your business support mature workers?

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