It's no secret that New Zealand has an aging workforce. And amid lots of talk about a "crisis" and frantic questions about how to provide young people with the skills the country needs, one group of researchers has proposed an innovative solution: Make the most of older workers!
In a report, entitled "Managing an Aging Workforce, an interdisciplinary research group called the Future of Work Programme highlights the myriad benefits of keeping older workers in the office and putting them to good use."Older workers are a valuable human resource - repositories of knowledge and expertise who have much to offer employers," reads the study, written in conjunction with the Equal Employment Opportunities Trust.
The authors said that those who have been at a given company the longest often model positive qualities like reliability, loyalty, maturity, commitment, and more for younger workers.
Another major benefit to companies is that keeping older workers on staff keeps their knowledge within company walls. "The requisite expertise and skills of some industries or professions can be highly specialised, sometimes taking years to acquire, making these workers a valuable asset (in its broadest sense) to the organisation," the researchers write.
Many organizations are now asking older workers to move into training and mentoring roles to help younger workers develop the skills necessary to sustain the company. "The benefits of such intergenerational knowledge transfer are multiple," the report continues. "Organisations are able to productively engage their older workers, develop their less experienced staff, increase their internal talent pool, and ensure that valuable (institutional or specialist) knowledge is retained."
The authors go on to assert that, when organizations work hard to put their older workers to good use, it helps everyone. It maximizes workforce utility and employee retention for the company, while improving positive work attitude for older employees and providing indispensable training opportunities for younger ones.
Creating an "organisational culture that is encouraging and supportive of older workers.... can help to foster better workplace relationships (with both colleagues and managers), increase staff motivation, commitment, engagement and job satisfaction, and improve staff wellbeing," the study says.
The researchers maintain that senior managers are an important part of the process of making the most of a company's aging staff. "Having organisational leadership that understands older workers and values their contribution is key," they write. "As is providing training to managers on recognizing the benefits of workforce age diversity and on how best to manage older workers."
Sky-high After 70
At least one other New Zealander doesn't see any reason to worry about the aging workforce. Rob Leach, founder and principal for over 40 years of Air Center One, an Auckland-based corporate jet services company, is still personally piloting many of his company's flights. Solidly a septuagenarian he's regularly flying some of the longest oceanic routes in the world.