Age diversity – what′s the benchmark?

As with any other diversity dimension, the success of mature-age workforce strategies need to be measured against outcomes-based, high-level performance benchmarks. Here we suggest a variety of benchmarks against which employers can compare themselves when evaluating the success of their ageing workforce programs

An organisation will have achieved excellence in managing the ageing workforce when:

  • Comprehensive company policies on making the most of mature-age workers are fully developed, well communicated and available to all employees.
  • Exit interview data reveals only a negligible portion of resignations are due to age discrimination or inability to work flexibly.
  • Questions inserted into Employee Opinion Surveys that specifically measure employee satisfaction according to age score well in this area.
  • Workplace profile data (breakdown of statistics by age) shows equity of distribution across the organisation, in line with the population.
  • Statistics on promotion data show equity between mature-age staff and staff who work in flexible working arrangements compared with younger staff and people working full time.
  • The issue of management capability has been adequately addressed through education and training. Managers and supervisors are the critical conversion point in turning policy into practice.

Adopting good workplace practices that value mature-age employees include:

  • Showing that you value your employees, whatever age they are;
  • Offering flexible working arrangements;
  • Having open communication so your employees can talk to you about problems;
  • Facilitating life-long learning;
  • Implementing mentoring in the workplace, allowing younger workers to benefit from the experience and
    knowledge of older workers;
  • Rewarding effort;
  • Good job design/redesign;
  • Providing good leadership/demonstrating good management;
  • Succession planning to meet future workforce requirements;
  • Retraining; and
  • Redeploying.

DCA acknowledges the Qld Government from some of this material:

In addition, organisations should be able to demonstrate a demographic workplace profile that is:

  • Consistent with demographic trends in their market;
  • Representative of their customer/client population in terms of age of workers; and
  • Reflective of future trends in the market.

Organisations should also demonstrate a capacity or a willingness to be able to incorporate pre-retirement, retirement and even post-retirement job opportunities as a way of harnessing the experience and skills that this portion of the workforce can bring.

This should be exercised through:

  • Policies;
  • Flexible working arrangements;
  • Conditions in enterprise agreements or personal contracts; and
  • Temporary pool of workers from which to draw resources for particular projects.

The following are six benchmarking strategies that could be beneficial for organisations to achieve best practice:

  • Redirect recruiting and sourcing efforts to include mature workers;
  • Retain valued employees through developing alternative work arrangements;
  • Preserve critical knowledge before it walks out the door;
  • Provide opportunities for workers to continually update their skills;
  • Facilitate the coexistence of multiple generations in the workforce; and
  • Help ensure that mature workers are able to use technology effectively in the workplace.

Australian workforce benchmarks

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data can be used to provide overall labour market and industry specific benchmarks on the workforce representation by age in Australia: