Recruitment and HR: Managing an ageing workforce

Sheep Central, November 15, 2021

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AUSTRALIANS are working longer — in agriculture and across the workforce — and employers need to consider several factors when taking on older workers.

In January 2019, about 13 percent of the workforce was aged over 65, compared to just 8pc back in 2006 – and the agricultural sector is no exception in this trend.

As workers age, there are a number of factors that need to be taken into consideration and managed within a workplace.

Naturally with an increase in age, there are a number of physiological and psychological changes that need to be taken into consideration.

Some of these include decreased mobility, decrease in strength, increased risk of falling, slower rehabilitation from injury and higher work-related stress.

Barriers to recovery

As a person ages, their ability to recover and return to their full duties may be complicated by other health concerns. These barriers do not mean that an individual cannot recover from an injury, just that it may take longer.

There can be many benefits to an ageing workforce, including an increase in knowledge and experience in the field.

Age discrimination and how to avoid it

Age discrimination directly occurs when someone is treated less favourably because of their age, when someone from a different age group would be treated differently in the same situation. It can also indirectly occur when there is a rule or policy in a workplace which may have an unfair effect on a particular age group.

There can be many benefits to an ageing workforce including an increase in knowledge and experience in the field. To avoid age discrimination in a workplace, identify and address any policies that may contain discrimination towards a particular age group as well as aim to remove any bias from the hiring process to ensure it is fair and equitable.

How to help an ageing workforce work safely

There are a number of ways in which managers can help an ageing workforce:

  • Proactively consult with older workers about their needs. This may include surveys or discussions between managers and staff
  • Build a workplace culture that values diversity
  • Provide workers with the necessary information, support and flexibility to continue working. This may include more daytime shifts rather than night or shifts shorter in duration
  • Allowing workers to have more control over the method and timing of their work as it has been shown to reduce levels of anxiety and depression and increase levels of job satisfaction.

Early intervention and prevention is the key to effectively treating injuries in an ageing workforce.

Readers can contact Work Healthy Australia for information or advice about how to manage an ageing workforce in their workplace.


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  1. Jack Clancy, November 15, 2021

    The article scratches the surface. Importing labour is a result of Australians resisting being skinned and cheapskated by agriculturalists and resellers. A week’s minimum wage here is many times a month’s pay in say Vanuatu or Vietnam etc. Aged persons have skills which require trade-offs.
    Aging workers now, whether post WW11 European immigrants or born Australian, have harmoniously carried the national burden and achieved most enviable working conditions.
    Lip service is given to employing us, and as one of them I have sympathy for the 100,000 homeless here and the vastly more than 5 percent unemployed. Every year the governments lie panoramically about unemployment. I have panoramic training including a lot of OHSE experience and education at top levels. I want to work until 85.

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