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Curtin study helps employers benefit from growing mature workforce

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New Curtin University-led research has identified how organisations can overcome the so-called ‘challenge’ of Australia’s ageing workforce in order to reap the benefits of an age diverse workforce.

The research, published in Work, Ageing and Retirement, identified three types of strategies, known as ‘include’, ‘individualise’, and ‘integrate’, that organisations can use to help business decision-makers in thinking more broadly and more proactively about how to manage and harness the benefits of an ageing workforce.

Co-author ARC Laureate Fellow Professor Sharon Parker, Director of the Centre for Transformative Work Design based in the Future of Work Institute at Curtin University, said the research had the potential to help organisations attract, retain and foster the success of Australia’s ageing workforce.

“Evidence suggests that mature workers are negatively stereotyped and potentially excluded in organisations, as some may have the perception that older workers are less competent, more resistant to change, and have a lower ability to learn compared to younger workers,” Professor Parker said.

“We believe this framework developed through our research might help to shift the conversation from coping with the ‘problem’ of mature workers to harnessing the unique benefits of mature workers with their distinct experiences and knowledge base.”

Co-author Dr Daniela Andrei, from the Centre for Transformative Work Design based at Curtin’s Future of Work Institute, said greater diversity in the workforce meant organisations could improve their decision-making and have a broader pool of resources, resulting in improved team performance.

“Mature age workers can bring a diverse set of work experiences, knowledge, training, skills, abilities, and perspectives, which can be especially relevant when teams are required to deal with complex tasks, or tasks that require innovative solutions,” Dr Andrei said.

“Our research suggests that organisations need to ensure they offer an inclusive environment for mature-aged workers, which includes reducing barriers and stereotypes to participation. Organisations should also develop strategies aimed at adapting the work so it better fits the needs and capabilities of mature workers, as well as improving how younger and older workers work together.”

The research is part of the Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research (CEPAR), a unique collaboration between academia, government and industry.

The paper titled, ‘Include, individualise, and integrate: organisational meta-strategies for mature workers,’ can be found online here.

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