Businesses are facing challenges to retain their mature, experienced employees.

A full five years before their first New Zealand Superannuation payment kicks in, most Kiwi employees are good and ready to down tools, hang up aprons, return company-provided laptops and take a permanent holiday from work. That's according to the latest Randstad employer branding research which says 59 is the ideal retirement age for most New Zealanders, with less than a third saying they'd be happy to work past the usual retirement age of 64.

But however much they might have "had enough" of work by 59, most employees believe they'll have to work until they are 65 to be eligible for government-paid retirement income and a SuperGold Card.

Paul Robinson, director of recruitment and HR specialists Randstad New Zealand, says keeping employees engaged, satisfied and productive past their intended retirement age is shaping up to be a major challenge for businesses in the future. "The skills shortage in many sectors in New Zealand, combined with an ageing population, means New Zealand businesses need to work on solutions which will attract, engage and retain mature workers," he says. "It's about keeping them motivated, challenged and happy at work - ensuring they are valued for their contribution."

Robinson says workers nearing retirement age should discuss with their manager what they need in order to be most productive, and then it's vital for organisations to offer the right support, conditions and benefits to effectively meet those needs.

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It could mean offering flexible working arrangements so that older workers can enjoy a good work/life balance as they ease into retirement. Other benefits that may appeal are opportunities to consult internally, head up projects, or conduct coaching and mentoring of younger workers.

In Randstad's research on ensuring engagement and productivity from Kiwis working past their ideal retirement age, the most popular incentives among employees surveyed were flexibility, a slower pace, and reduced hours. Just under half said adaptable working hours were a key motivator to keep working later in life, while 42 per cent wanted a more relaxed working schedule and 39 per cent said reduced working hours could entice them to stay.

"When looking at mature-age employees, it's clear that many crave flexibility in working hours and responsibilities, and organisations need to work on solutions that meet the needs of employees and the business," says Robinson.

Martin King, general manager of human resources at Coca-Cola Amatil NZ (CCANZ), says his organisation recognises that an ageing workforce requires different thinking in order to retain highly talented and skilled employees. He notes this is particularly apparent in their engineering teams, "with engineering being an area in which there is a major talent challenge in New Zealand".

CCANZ recently implemented a job share arrangement for one of its more mature, Christchurch-based engineering employees, and part-time reduced hours for an Auckland-based employee. King says this is a "win-win" for employee and employer, in retaining highly-valued skills while meeting the changing needs of the employees.

The company provides transition support for employees considering retirement, and recently held holistic retirement planning seminars at its nationwide sites, which King said were a great success with employees.

CCANZ celebrates the contribution a diverse workforce offers through its "Golden Bottles" awards for long service. Almost 500 attendees come together from around New Zealand to celebrate their length of service, starting at five years, but including many employees with more than 35 years of service. This year, a Golden Bottle will be awarded to an employee who has been with the company for 40 years. King says the event is unique and one that creates special memories for employees. "It's like the Oscars - everyone goes home with a Golden Bottle which they keep in pride of place."

He says the retention of long service workers is important to CCANZ because the internal employee community benefits from the influence of these mature, experienced employees, who often are only too happy to share their wisdom or to provide mentoring for those just starting out on their career pathway.

Robinson says it's crucial to develop strategies to attract and retain workers of all ages. "With five generations in the workforce at the same time, strategies need to appeal to older and younger workers, motivating them to perform at their best while encouraging collaboration to achieve a shared vision and goal. Businesses which fail to do this may risk losing top talent, which could mean your main competitor."