Grey Matters: Engaging Mature Age Workers

Topics Age

This research project reveals baby boomers are challenging traditional notions of retirement. The research results are great news for employers and for Australia: At a time of strong economic growth and labour shortages, there is an exciting pool of talent, ready, willing and able to work. This research combined with DCA’s expertise in workplace diversity gives employers valuable information about how to better attract and retain talent in a tight labour market.

Key Findings:

Flexible working: 

  • Prior to retiring, the average hours mature-age people worked was 40 hours, while they would have preferred to work 35.
  • Many mature-age people not currently working are care-givers (in total, 40% indicated they were care-giver of a child and/or grandchild or family member with a disability or health issue or who was elderly).
  • Having a job with flexibility, including hours of work, was important or very important for 97% of those not currently employed.
  • Employed mature-age workers indicated their top two ideal employment practices approaching retirement would involve: flexibility in start and finish times, and phased retirement.
  • Mature-age people not currently working indicated their top employment practices would involve: telework/work from home, a job with limited travel and flexibility in start and finish times. 

Lifelong learning: 

  • Around 80% of mature-age people not currently employed said working for an organisation that was supportive of their learning and development needs and careers was important or very important in influencing their decision to remain in the workplace. 

Inclusive culture:

  •  Some 97% of mature-age people indicated working for an organisation that was supportive of older workers was important or very important in influencing their decision to remain in the workplace.

Key drivers for mature age workers

We need to challenge traditional notions of "retirement age":

  • Most likely reason for mature-aged people not currently working to retire was that they had "reached retirement age". Yet, the average age they retired at was only 57.
  • Mature-age people not currently working are an untapped talent pool:
  • Experienced - 33 years average length of work experience.
  • Interested in growth - 53% would consider doing further study.
  • Prepared to relocate - 30% were prepared to relocate for ideal employment.
  • Prepared to return to work - 31% would consider returning to work.
  • In fact, if they had been offered an ideal job as they approached retirement, on average this group would have worked for six more years - to average retirement age of 63.

The Key Employment Drivers for respondents to the survey are as follows:

  • Prior to retiring, the average hours mature-age people worked was 40 hours, while they would have preferred to work 35.
  • Many not currently working mature-age people are care-givers (in total, 40% indicated they were care-giver of a child or grandchild or family member with a disability or health issue or who was elderly).
  • Many mature-age workers are care-givers (in total, 42%).
  • 99% of mature age people indicated that being able to keep mentally active and being in good financial health was important or very important in influencing their decision to remain in the workplace.
  • 80% of mature-age people indicated working for an organisation that was supportive of their learning and development needs was important or very important in influencing their decision to remain in the workplace.
  • 95% of mature-age people indicated working for an organisation that was supportive of older workers was important or very important in influencing their decision to remain in the workplace.

Females and males want flexibility and learning & development but females want them more!

  • Flexibility was more important to females than males (52% females versus 34% males indicated it was very important in influencing their decision to stay in the workforce past retirement).
  • Learning & development was more important to females than males (36% females versus 23% males).

Retirees and mature-age workers want different types of flexibility:

Employed mature-age workers indicated their top two ideal jobs approaching retirement would involve:

  • Flexibility in start and finish times.
  • Phased retirement.

Mature-age people not currently working indicated their top ideal jobs would involve:

  • Telework/work from home.
  • Job with limited travel.
  • Flexibility in start and finish times.

Superannuation and income affects flexibility wanted:

  • Flexible start/finish times were much more important for those on low income.
  • Working regular hours and job sharing were also more popular for those with low income and/or inadequate superannuation.
  • Teleworking/working from home and having supervisory responsibility were more popular with those on high income and/or with adequate superannuation.

Members can access the full research report.

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