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Kiwi employers missing opportunity to engage with older workers

Monday, Nov 7, 2016, by Sheryl Blythen

More than 70 per cent of New Zealand businesses have no specific strategies to engage with workers older than 55, a recent survey shows. The latest New Zealand Diversity Survey revealed that 73 per cent of employers are perceived as treating older workers in the same manner as the rest of their workforce. Diversity Works NZ Chief Executive Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie says that while it’s gratifying that the majority of local organisations are not discriminating against workers due to age, some businesses may be missing the opportunity to capitalise on the experience and loyalty of their older employees. The NZ Diversity Survey revealed that only six per cent of businesses are perceived to value the experience of older workers and only four per cent tailor flexible working arrangements to this age group, although 95 per cent of organisations offer some sort of flexibility to their entire workforce. Only two per cent of those surveyed said their organisation offered staff older than 55 retirement planning information, and fewer than two per cent offered training aimed at this age group. Government figures predict that by 2020, a quarter of the New Zealand workforce will be aged 55 or older, and Cassidy-Mackenzie says these older workers offer a solution to the skills and labour shortage many industry sectors are facing. Michael Barnett, a director of the New Zealand Chambers of Commerce & Industry, says that businesses that ignore older workers are being short-sighted. “Companies that implement strategies designed to increase positive engagement with staff heading into the later stage of their working lives will be better placed to harness the benefits these older workers offer,” he says. The NZ Diversity Survey, which was initiated in 2013 to create a better understanding of the key diversity challenges facing New Zealand organisations, is carried out twice a year by Diversity Works New Zealand in partnership with the New Zealand Chambers of Commerce. Read more about managing an older workforce or see the full New Zealand Diversity Survey October 2016 report.

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