Finding the gold in silver hair The challenges and opportunities of a cross-generational workplace

Many businesses are missing out on the opportunities offered by Australia and New Zealand’s ageing workforce, according to Finding the Gold in Silver Hair, a white paper commissioned by The Executive Connection (TEC) and launched today.

The White Paper finds that small to medium sized businesses that put in place the right measures to recruit and retain older employees whilst providing a succession plan for younger rising stars are in a better position to tap into the emerging cashed up baby-boomer customer base whilst ensuring a smooth transition of skills and knowledge.

Meanwhile, businesses that fail to manage the challenges risk losing younger talent and alienating older customers.

“Most research into the issue of our changing workplace demographic focuses on the problems associated with an ageing workforce,” says Nigel Stoke, TEC Chairman.

“There are plenty of opportunities presented by having a cross-generational workplace but most small to medium sized businesses do not have the right strategies in place to capitalise on these.

“More employees are looking to remain in the workforce for longer and SMEs stand to benefit from tapping into a pool of highly skilled older employees. Flexible workplace arrangements such as leave without pay are the key to recruiting and retaining mature-aged employees as these benefits are often more important than high salaries for this demographic, “ Mr Stoke said.

Australia’s Age Discrimination Commissioner, said “the white paper reinforces the very real challenge for governments, employers and the community in recognising the true capacities of older people who wish or need to work and eradicate age discrimination in the process.”

“People of all ages have an enormous amount to offer SMEs, by and large the largest employers, in every aspect of their business,”. Further “It’s incredibly important that businesses of all sizes recognise and act on the findings of report’s such as TEC’s White Paper – these will be some of the most significant issues that workplaces have faced in decades,” Ms Ryan said.

The report finds that tools such as cross-generational mentoring can help small to medium sized businesses manage changing markets and an ageing customer base whilst also creating strategies and plans for the future.

“Although retention of mature age workers is important, SMEs also need to ensure they do not block the progress of the next generation of managers – or potential owners for the business,” Mr Stoke said.

“Businesses that plan to be around for the long-term must ensure they have employees trained to their full potential and have clear career pathways in place for their future development and growth. Otherwise, it can lead to frustration and the loss of younger talent,” he said.

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