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Investing in experience

For: Employers and managers Information seekers

Workplaces are key to keeping people of all ages employed, healthy and productive.

Impacts of an ageing population

As our population ages, the proportion of people working is expected to drop and put pressure on the economy and health systems. Retaining skilled workers can support productivity.

The Australian Government’s response to our ageing population is to focus on:

  • active ageing and participation
  • investing in skills and infrastructure
  • promoting a longer productive working life.

Priority areas for action

An integrated approach is required to remove the barriers preventing older people from participating in work.

The Framework for Action is designed to help you to improve workforce participation of older people, increase productivity, and tackle the barriers to a longer productive work life.

The four main elements of the framework are the priority areas for change:

  1. Workforce planning and development. Understanding the demographic profile of your workers, and how this changes with age, is essential to attracting, engaging and retaining a multigenerational workforce.
  2. Manager confidence. Building the capability and confidence of managers in your workplace to better support older workers is key, as is better matching workers with opportunities.
  3. Work design. Good work design helps you recruit and retain older workers and return them to work by minimising obstacles in their path.
  4. Health and wellbeing. As an employer, you need to capitalise on the role of the workplace in keeping people in employment and supporting their health and productivity.

Invest in experience

Find practical advice to help you benefit from multiple generations working alongside each other:

Leadership commitment

Leadership commitment is about recognising the challenge, making a commitment to tackling it, and translating this ambition into practical action.

The challenge

There has been rapid ageing of the workforce since the early 1990s. Older workers are making valuable contributions in the workplace and the community. These workers are choosing to work if the conditions are right.

Some common reasons for delaying retirement include financial pressures, social interaction and wanting to use their skills and experience.

Longer and healthier lives, changes in work design, and technology enhancements create opportunities for innovation and flexibility at work so people can continue to be productive and contribute regardless of age.

The opportunity

You need a strong leadership commitment to promote, support and enable workforce age diversity.

Setting the ‘tone at the top’ and applying an integrated approach helps embed age diversity within your workforce and workplace.

The Statement of Commitment to Investing in Experience (PDF, 58.6 KB) is a tool you can use to demonstrate and guide your commitment to embracing age diversity.

The principles outlined in the statement demonstrate commitment to managing age diversity:

  1. Know your workforce and plan for the future
  2. Recruit the best regardless of age
  3. Believe in lifelong learning and encourage skills and knowledge transfer
  4. Be proactive in retaining workers and supporting workers to transition to retirement
  5. Build diversity of managers to practice age diversity
  6. Provide a safe and healthy working environment
  7. Promote and share better practice.

More information

Ageing and Work: Fact or Myth (PDF, 34.0 KB).

Workforce planning and development

Workforce planning is about understanding your organisational demographics and planning effectively to ensure your older workforce can remain in good work.

The challenge

Participation and engagement of all generations at work is essential for a dynamic and productive workplace that mirrors the communities we serve.

People are vital to an organisation functioning well, particularly in knowledge-intensive workplaces. A mature age workforce, consisting of highly engaged, skilled and experienced people, offers opportunities to maximise participation and performance.

Identifying and adapting to change is integral to sustaining an organisation.

The opportunity

There are several practical actions you can take to understand age-diversity and inform your strategies and actions:

  • collect and analyse your agency’s demographic data
  • monitor people’s employment and experience
  • implement workforce planning strategies that support age diversity
  • assess how well your organisation recruits and retains older workers.

To take action, download the workforce planning and development guidance in Investing in Experience: Working for Today and Tomorrow snapshot (PDF, 2.0 MB).

More information

Work design

It is critical your workplace culture values older workers and designs work to maximise the participation of older workers.

The challenge

With longer and healthier working lives comes an opportunity for many people to contribute more and consider changing career pathways. Career development and planning support can significantly enhance employee motivation and productivity.

Work and life balance impacts workers of every generation. Flexibility has become more important in our workplaces. The ability to work part-time or flexible hours has been found to be a key facilitator, after good health, for older people to work beyond retirement age.

To attract and retain older workers, employers need to create the culture, systems and processes that support and facilitate work flexibility.

The opportunity

You need to build a workplace culture that values older workers and designs work to support their participation.

You can:

  • promote a positive, age-friendly workplace culture
  • take an age-inclusive approach to recruitment
  • better match work for older workers
  • provide options for alternative or enriched work roles
  • provide and promote flexible work options
  • help workers transition to retirement
  • use technology to help older workers participate at work.

More information

Health, safety and wellbeing

Health and wellbeing programs that address the health risks of older workers within your organisation lead to increased staff engagement, reduced turnover and higher productivity.

The challenge

Good work is good for you—while there is a complex relationship between health and work, people in work are generally healthier. Work that is healthy, safe and well-designed is generally good for both physical and mental wellbeing.

The opportunity

Investing in health and wellbeing makes good business sense. It shows a strong return on investment that can see your workplace thrive.

Your workplace, and its health and wellbeing approach, has a critical role in:

  • preventing illness and injury, by eliminating or minimising exposure to hazards
  • intervening early for those who are injured, unwell or develop a health condition
  • supporting those with injury or illness to allow them to continue working.

More information

Manager confidence

Line managers play a key role in ensuring older workers are supported, motivated and have the right skills and resources to do their job. They can also be crucial to how employees view the organisation and their work.

The challenge

Skilled managers are well placed to support the wellbeing of older workers, identify any issues early and implement interventions that allow older workers to participate fully in their workplace.

The opportunity

You can respond effectively by building the skills and confidence of front line managers.

Many older workers require flexibility in the workplace. Flexible work options are critical to enabling participation at work.

Managers need to be supported to implement flexible work policies and procedures.

More information

Engagement and learning

Learning and training allows older workers to continually adapt to changing demands in the workplace, as well as satisfying personal and social purposes.

The challenge

Learning is a lifelong process and an important part of successful ageing.

Employers need to recognise the skills of older workers and encourage further skill development. Investment in appropriate learning and development opportunities, regardless of age, bring direct benefits to business by building skills and resilience.

When people construct their own career paths, work in areas that use their potential and meet their own goals, they are likely to be more motivated and more productive.

The opportunity

Older workers need training throughout their careers to keep their skills up to date and relevant. Investing in development for older workers means they are more likely to be engaged, satisfied in their jobs, and more productive.

As older workers frequently remain with their employer for a longer period compared to younger workers, employers are likely to reap a higher return on their learning and development investment.

To do this, you need to:

  • offer learning and development opportunities to all workers, regardless of age
  • raise awareness of barriers and supports for older workers to access learning and development opportunities
  • strengthen performance management processes and practices
  • monitor the uptake of learning and development opportunities by older workers.
Page last reviewed: 14 September 2022

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Date printed 02 Mar 2024