Kiwi bosses ill-equipped for older employees

  • 01/09/2015
Older Employee (iStock)
Older Employee (iStock)

Most Kiwi bosses are ill-equipped to meet the needs of older employees despite many being well aware the country's workforce is ageing.

A new workplace survey of 113 employers has revealed that just 20 per cent have policies or arrangements in place for older workers as they near retirement age.

The remaining 80 per cent had no such policies and didn't think these plans were required.

This is despite more than 40 per cent of employers admitting they will see an increase in the proportion of workers in their enterprise aged over 65 in the near future.

Phil O'Reilly, chief executive of enterprise advocate BusinessNZ, which carried out the survey in partnership with health insurer Southern Cross, said employers may be too focused on the short-term.

"The reality is our work force is getting older and these people will need to be practically accommodated," Mr O'Reilly said.

"This country will also see a lot of high level, senior staff with a wealth of experience and knowledge retiring in the coming years and businesses need to put plans in place and be prepared for their departure."

Among the companies that did have plans in place, most had arrangements to change hours of work while others had plans for reduced hours, lighter duties and discussions around retirement options.

Mr O'Reilly said older workers may not be wanting to give up work completely, but instead be looking to transition into a more flexible arrangement.

"They may want to be more involved with caring for grandchildren, have other dependants to look after, hobbies they want to spend more time on or may have health issues to contend with," he said.

"Businesses need to tap into this experience while they have it, and look at ways for long-serving staff to pass their knowledge on while still playing a valuable role."

BusinessNZ encouraged employers to put into place practices that help keep their staff healthy throughout their working lives.