Would you work longer if it was more like retirement? 57



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Much has been said about the ageing workforce and the impending problems we face in this area but an occupational consultant says are missing the most important point: stop thinking about age and a barrier to work, and start thinking about how the workplace acts as a barrier to older people.

Dr Caroline Howe, executive director of occupational consultants ThinkHowe, has researched work-to-retirement transitions and the psychological health of workers compared to retirees, and found, unsurprisingly, retirees were happier. Specifically, retirees were happier because they have more opportunity to do what they want to do, and the flexibility to organise their time in a way that suits them.

In many cases, it was the desire for flexibility and freedom overcoming the desire to earn money that caused them to give up work.

Dr Howe argues that, if workplaces adjusted to the ageing workforce and allowed them more control over their time, they would be more inclined to work for longer and, best still, be happier doing so.

University of Sydney lecturer will speak at the Models to Support the Ageing Workforce conference next week, advising employers to speak to their workforce, identify their values and then develop idea to match these.

Using the example of aged-care workers, a third of whom are over 55, Dr Howe suggests rethinking shift-work to embrace older people who might benefit from working four-hour or six-hour shifts.

“Where is the logic that says you need to do eight-hour shifts?” she told Australian Ageing Agenda.

Another aspect of work to be considered is accessibility. Are workplaces accessible for older people – and even younger people with disabilities, including obesity?

“Once you design a workplace that is accessible, then age doesn’t play a big role anymore,” Dr Howe says, adding that employers needed to stop thinking about age as a problem and create “age inclusive cultures”.

Do you agree that workplaces need to make changes to adapt to the older workforce rather than the other way round? 



Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. Having just been bullied out of a job at the age of 70 it would be good if action was taken

    4 REPLY
  2. I’m struggling healthwise at 63 so I dont have much of a future if I cant find another type of work where it isnt as physical!! Fat Chance with Abbott and the Jobs/Employment climate he and his party are perpetuating! Nobody wants to know or help!!

  3. Firstly certain legislation needs to be changed.
    Once you turn 65 the insurance component of superannuation is null and void .perfect example of age discrimination.
    Example of you are under 65 and have to take time off for an illness or accident the superannuation life insurance covers you for up to 2 years at 75% of your salary.
    I know people working after 65 who have needed this assistance because they are still working full time but have needed time off for an operation but are not eligible

  4. Had to stop work 3 years ago,,,,the work I had done for 41 years,,,,,,due to medical conditions. Government says I need to work for another 3 years!! Have applied for various jobs I know I could do, but who is going to employ a 62 year old who has never done that work before!!!!

  5. I was eligible to retire a year ago but worked part time, I worked with children for around 20 years, very demanding work, I am happily retired now.

  6. Yes, anyone who can and wants to work should not be presented with problems, only solutions. Also, unless this country doesn’t care about new Australians not being born here because of financial hardship, workplaces need to also stop replacing jobs that have been available to mums in the past with machines.

  7. Additionally
    Our generation received no maternity leave, no family leave and no child care subsidy when we had children.We did it all unassisted.
    Surely we can have some consideration in our working lives over 65.
    We do not retire on huge pensions(comparatively) like the Greeks and French.
    There is less discrimination accommodating family leave than help in working towards retirement or working until we physically can’t.
    Elderly people today work and help out with grandchildren.
    I would love to see someone like Richard Branson brought into this debate. He is an exemplary employer who values his employees and has loyalty as a no 1 priority to retain employees and so preserve hood intellectual property that he has spent millions on. Govts could learn a lot from him

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