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Money not the key to keeping older workers happy - NZ research

Sunday, Sep 20, 2015, by Admin

Recognition, respect and flexible work matter more to older workers than what they get paid says the lead researcher on a study into the wellbeing of older workers. “The good news is that workers aged 55 and over have relatively high levels of wellbeing and experience low levels of age discrimination at work,” says AUT Business School Professor of Work and Organisation Tim Bentley.  “Above all else these workers want to be recognised and respected for the contribution they make, and they want flexible work options.  Fortunately these are needs that can be met without huge expense or organisational change in most cases.” The research, based on an online survey of more than 1200 mature New Zealand workers was completed by Professor Bentley in conjunction with the Equal Employment Opportunities Trust (EEO Trust) and researchers from Massey University and the University of Waikato. “This research shows the importance of employers taking the time to understand their diverse workforce and what motivates different groups and individuals,” says EEO Trust Chief Executive Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie. “Ageing workers – or ‘wisdom workers’ – are a hugely valuable talent pool for employers and by creating a supportive work environment that offers recognition and flexibility, employers can gain access to this experienced, skilled, reliable and loyal workforce.” The research identifies a generally stable mature workforce, with less than 20 per cent currently considering leaving their jobs, and the large majority reporting that they are free of health issues and happy with the quality of their lives. However the research does identify a gap between the average age at which older workers realistically expect to retire (67.4 years) and the age they would prefer to retire (65.9 years), with both being older than the traditional retirement age of 65 years. “While we found that HR practices in New Zealand provide reasonably well for older workers, organisations and older workers would benefit from an increased focus on anti-discrimination training and job design to optimise the working environment for older workers,” says Bentley. For more insights into how to retain and support older workers, download the “Managing an ageing workforce” report.


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