InTouch : Redesigned Work Helps Keep Older Workers

Smart organisations are redesigning jobs to retain older workers and keep their years of experience, according to research by the EEO Trust.
“Employers are making big efforts to retain skilled staff,” says Philippa Reed, EEO Trust CEO.
“Many tell us they’re ensuring older people get the training they need, reconfiguring roles to ensure people’s skills and expertise are retained, and mechanising manual jobs.”
The research, “Older Workers: Employers Speak Out”, is the result of 26 in-depth interviews with employer members of the EEO Trust, not-for-profit organisation that supports workplaces to make the most of New Zealand’s diverse talent pool.
The research found that the perception of the age at which someone becomes an “older” worker has shifted from 40 to 45 years old in the 1990s to 50 to 55 and older in 2008.
Many employers already do their best to retain older workers by providing flexible working hours and redesigning roles, Reed says. “We’re currently asking recruitment agents about their perceptions of older workers to add even more depth to this research.”
The research is released alongside new guide – “Valuing Experience: practical guide to recruiting and retaining older workers” which provides tips for employers as well as information on older workers.
The guide was produced by group comprising the EEO Trust, the Human Rights Commission, the Retirement Commission, Business New Zealand, the Council of Trade Unions and the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce.
It covers how organisations can position themselves to employ older workers and provides information on recruiting and retaining older workers, work design, job structure, effective supervision, managing performance, training and development, and motivation and rewards.
Tips include:
• Age-proof your organisation by identifying what you want to achieve, such as retention of skills and knowledge for competitive advantage.
• Identify the current age profile of your organisation so that you know of retirement intentions and can effectively plan for succession.
• To encourage job applications from older workers, consider different forms of flexible work arrangements including shorter weeks, extended leave periods and quality part-time work.
• Equip managers and supervisors to enhance the performance of older workers through awareness training, career discussion tools and effective communication.
• Address performance issues proactively as soon as possible to avoid hard conversations about poor or deteriorating performance, and ensure all employees are treated fairly and with dignity.

Download the EEO Trust’s research “Older workers: Employers speak out” from and the guide “Valuing Experience: practical guide to recruiting and retaining older workers” from

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