Are You One Of The 63% against mature workers?

Research released today by the Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI) found that 0nly 37% of respondents could be certain their organisation was not influenced by negative perceptions of mature workers when recruiting or retaining staff.

This suggests 63% of surveyed organisations couldnt be sure or did actually allow negative perceptions to influence their decisions.

Okay, I am being sensationlist and I am using figures to get your attention. Or am I?

Someone who has been in the workplace for around 40 years has accumulated an lot of wisdom and knowledge. Between 20% and 50% of those responding to the survey, depending upon the question they answered, claimed loss of mature workers had contributed to a lack of competitiveness and a loss of key knowledge.

Think about this. In a hospital setting, if we fail to nurture those mature workers that remain working, if we fail to put in place appropriate processes for passing on knowledge and experience and we combine that with new entrants that have received only a minimum of practical training – it is possible someone will die as a consequence. Systems and processes are no replacement for decades of wisdom and experience.

Now I’m not suggesting every mature worker should be retained. As a management coach I have seen a fair number who are their own worst enemy and should be let go at the earliest opportunity. Changing environments require workers that are able to adapt. Those that cannot adapt are a barrier to effectivenss and service delivery.

Fortunately not every worker over the age of 50 is a dinosaur. Many have demonstrated their ability to adapt, to learn new skills, to work in a changing environment. These people are worth their weight in gold. I suspect many did so because they are personally motivated to succeed. I wonder how many other mature workers fall through the cracks; are mis-labeled as difficult and inflexible, simply because their employer doesn’t have in place effective processes for assisting them to change, to develop new work skills, to take on new responsibilities and to work within a more diverse workplace?

This research shows that it is possible that we don’t get the best from our mature workforce because we don’t have a positive attitude about mature workers. This suggests there is a need to develop greater awareness of potential and benefits amongst both mature managers and immature managers-in-waiting – as much as it is necessary for mature workers to adapt better to the emerging workplace environment.

If you feel your organisation might benefit from becoming more aware of working with diversity, please contact us to discuss how our specialists in workplace diversity might design a process for you.

Those are my thoughts for the day.

Let The Journey Continue

John Coxon


About John Coxon

Principal consultant for John Coxon & Associates, a management consultancy working with boards and management teams in healthcare, aged care and not for profit organisations to develop effective strategic planning processes and social enterprise business plans
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