NZ businesses not geared up for ageing workforce

A review has found 83 per cent of companies have no strategies in place for workers aged over 50. Photo / iStock
A review has found 83 per cent of companies have no strategies in place for workers aged over 50. Photo / iStock

As more New Zealanders work past retirement a new survey has revealed most businesses are not geared up for an ageing workforce.

The Retirement Commissioner's review of retirement income policies has found 83 per cent of companies have no strategies in place for workers aged over 50.

One in five people aged over 65 years are still working and that is expected to rise to one in three by 2030.

The study of 500 small-to-large businesses has revealed the senior workforce has largely being ignored despite its projected growth.

Commission for Financial Capability spokesman David Boyle said employers needed to consider how they managed and benefited from older employees.

"Older workers bring skills, experience and, often, loyalty to an organisation. Their input can be invaluable, but they can need support, such as training or flexibility around their role, for them to keep working.

"It's a question of attitude as well. I've heard from people in their 60s and even their 50s who say they feel invisible or overlooked in favour of younger workers."

The few companies that had strategies for older workers had introduced flexible working hours, an organisational culture that supported older workers and phased retirement such as moving to part-time work.

The survey found more than two thirds of the 500 businesses reported a shortage of highly experienced workers in their industry. A similar proportion were concerned about losing skills and experience when older workers retired.

Said Mr Boyle: "The logical next step is for them to draw up policies and strategies to ensure they retain people with those skills and experience who want to continue working."

The survey found 77 per cent of companies did not actively plan to help their employees move from full-time work.

"I know of some companies that make work more flexible for their older staff, for example with part-time mentoring roles to tap into that experience. It's often a win-win for everyone.

"But I also speak to people who feel like they've been put on the scrap heap, and would like to work but can't, when they still have a lot to offer."

Mr Boyle said some continued working because they needed the money but others worked beyond retirement because they enjoyed what they were doing or liked the social contact.

The Commission for Financial Capability was holding a forum today to address the issues that workers, employers and the country is facing.

It will investigate what other countries are doing to make the most of their ageing workforces; identify the challenges and opportunities for New Zealand; and address the social and economic implications of working past 65.

- NZ Herald

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