Employers urged to support older workers

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Bosses should be doing more to help staff remain employed as they get older – that’s the assertion from one new survey after more than half of Kiwis said current support just isn’t enough.

Research from healthcare firm Bupa found that only 30 per cent of New Zealanders believe older people are valued by society and around 55 per cent think employers should do more to help older people stay in the workforce.

Support for aging staff wasn’t the only thing lacking for Kiwis – the survey found that a growing number of employees are now responsible for caring for an elderly relative with many saying they too aren’t getting enough support from bosses.

Of those surveyed, the majority (69 per cent) said they felt responsible for taking care of their elderly parents and more than half (56 per cent) felt that employers could do more to support people who are looking after elderly family members.

This number is even higher for women, with 62 per cent of females believing that employers should provide support for this caring responsibility, whereas only 50 per cent of men felt this was necessary.

The healthcare firm said flexible working should be one of the first things employers consider if they hope to bolster support including being able to work from home or enabling changes or breaks in job arrangements.

According to respondents, employers could also support employees to keep working as they age by providing opportunities to exercise, access to medical advice, health insurance and mental health support.

Stephanie Clare, chief executive of Age Concern, said employers that invested in their older employees as well as those caring for elderly relatives would reap the rewards in the long run.

“New Zealand has an ageing population, health care is constantly getting better and so people are more and more likely to be working past the retirement age. If this is the case employers that start being inclusive when it comes to age will be respected in the long run,” she said.

One of the most effective methods of driving improvement, she suggested, was frequently consulting with older employees to find out what works and what could work better.

“Decision makers must involve their older employees in every way they can. If they don’t they will miss opportunities to develop,” she said.

“Give older people every opportunity to speak up when making decisions. Ask them for their advice. Talk with them about their careers.”

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