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How to keep a baby boomer happy in the workplace



How do you keep a baby boomer happy at work? No need, they're stoked to be there, new research suggests.

New Zealand has one of the highest employment rates in the OECD of aged workers, with the latest figures showing 22 per cent of workers are aged over 55.

That number is expected to balloon, with projections suggesting this will rise to 25 per cent by 2020 with many workers staying in employment well after they turn 65.

A new report from the Auckland University of Technology's Work Research Institute, which surveyed more than 1200 workers older than 55, suggests baby boomers are a happy bunch at work.

Money is not the driver, with the aging workforce more concerned about being respected and having flexible working arrangements later in life.

Those surveyed reported relatively high levels of wellbeing and low levels of age discrimination, but one in four did not believe older workers were valued in their organisation and cited biases held by managers as a problem.

While respondents were generally happy and few were considering quitting, there was a 1.5 year average difference between the ideal retirement age and when people expected to be able to retire.

Institute director Professor Tim Bentley that extra one and a half years of work was something employers would need to deal with.

"If they (employees) don't feel they are getting continuing training, development, challenging work and a job design that fits with older people's capabilities and limitations, that 18 months could be quite a challenging time."

The survey showed older employees were generally happy with their lot, but if companies managed and designed their roles to meet their requirements they would get a lot more out of their staff, he said.

Power company Vector Energy began planning for their aging workforce about three years ago, after realising a third of their staff in the Taranaki region were older than 50.

After some deeper research, it was discovered almost half of all Vector's staff were older than 45 and the company began to wonder about what was going to happen in 10-20 years time.

Vector group HR manager Paul McCloskey said advisory groups were set up to considering succession planning and individual meetings were set up with older employees to find out what their plan was.

"It was a very sensitive situation but...most of the staff were fairly open about what there future plans were."

Apprentices were now buddied to older employees to not only assist them in more physical aspects of the work, but also to soak up the knowledge senior staff possessed.

Efforts had also shifted to figuring out how to ensure older staff stayed with the company, rather than simply see them walk out the door at 65, he said.

Equal Employment Opportunities Trust chief executive Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie said Vector was in the minority, with many employers lacking plans about what would happen in the future as people got older.

A lower birth rate meant there would be a large increase in older workers and while this was not a bad thing, employers needed to start planning for it.

Older workers were often more stable employees, committed to their employer and had huge institutional knowledge, she said.

But they were often not utilised, especially at a management level, as younger staff saw them as a threat.

"These guys are not a threat, their careers are finished...they're quite happy to pass on that knowledge but a lot of companies won't use them because they see them as a threat."

Money is a motivator

Money motivates Don Deuchar, 58, to get up in the morning.

The electrical foreman said the bills need to be paid

"It's the only reason I work. If I could afford not to work, I wouldn't be working."

Deuchar said he liked supervising younger workers and handling paperwork in his role at Auckland building sites.

"Generally I enjoy it, but the stress gets too much at times."

The least favourite part of the job was dealing with client disputes and cleaning up another contractor's mistakes, he said.

Similar to the survey results, commanding respect on the job was important to Deuchar. 

"We knock it into the young fellas ... people should be respectful."

And like the survey respondents, Deuchar said he expected to stay working after 65, but only for financial reasons.

KiwiSaver came in too late for Deuchar to save enough for retirement.

'I don't see the point of retiring'

Park ranger Riki Bennett expects to work past retirement age.

"It's good to be active. As long as health is on my side I'll be working. I don't see the point of retiring for the sake of retiring."

The Auckland Council employee works in the Waitakere ranges and runs education programmes on conservation.

"I enjoy the variety and interaction with people. I'm passionate about the outdoors and conservation work."

Park rangers don't get paid top dollar so money isn't a motivator, he said.

As he's aged he has become more passionate about educating people about conserving environment.

"As you get older your attitudes change. What's important in life changes and you perceive things differently."

Although his job is not without its frustrations.

He said the young people who vandalise park property annoy him the most.

 - Sunday Star Times

Well Balanced Work 

Figures from the latest New Zealand Diversity Survey show wellbeing/wellness and work-life balance are key challenges for our organisations. Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie asks are we really taking care of our greatest asset? 

Read the article>> Employment Today June 2015 

EEO Trust serves up lunchtime learning 

March saw the EEO Trust launch a new training offering for businesses keen to kickstart their diversity journey. These short sharp lunchtime training sessions offer your organisation the perfect diversity overview and an opportunity to examine the various issues that can arise in the workplace. They introduce the challenge of making judgements without questioning the bias on which they are made. 

Content is delivered in three customised sessions during the lunchtime period (45 mins) and brings the diversity platforms to life with examples and case studies from our Diversity Awards that include lifestyle choices, gender equity, religious beliefs, wellness programmes, parental leave and more.

In these sessions you will learn about:

  • Cultural diversity
  • Conscious and unconscious bias
  • Effectively managing an ageing workforce
  • Maximising the capability of younger workers
  • Employing people with diverse abilities
  • Preventing workplace bullying and harassment
  • Empowering women in the workplace and into leadership
  • Promoting wellness and work-life balance

Keen to stimulate your grey matter as well as your tastebuds over lunch? Register your interest and our customised training facilitator will be in touch. 

Second quarterly diversity survey results released

This week we have announced the results from our latest quarterly diversity survey conducted in conjunction with the Auckland Chamber of Commerce and canvassing the opinions of more than a thousand businesses and organisations across New Zealand. Whilst there are a number of consistent findings from the first survey run in November 2013, there have been a couple of shifts in key measures with the diversity areas of focus being highlighted as an ageing workforce, staff wellbeing, flexible working and bullying and harrassment. Read the full story here.

Watch us on HRM online TV 

EEO Trust CEO Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie discusses the importance of workplace diversity and how to address it. Click here to see the interview.  HRM ONLINE TV

Worrying poll on staff engagement

In New Zealand, we're fortunate to have one of the highest rates of employee engagement in the OECD but it's still just 24 per cent. According to the survey, 60 per cent of our workforce is not engaged - they're sleepwalking through work and doing the hours but not going the extra mile or feeling inclined to - and a further 16 per cent are actively disengaged, which means their unhappiness infuses everything they do at work.

In an interview with the New Zealand Herald, EEO Trust Chief Executive Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie, talks about why employee engagement should be high on the list of strategic priorities for organisations of all sizes and the business benefits realised by those who develop a culture that motivates and rewards staff. Read the full article here

3 March 2014

Women's Empowerment Principles (WEPs) New Zealand

News and Releases 

Congratulations Buddle Findlay for becoming a WEPs signatory

The law firm Buddle Findlay is the most recent organisation to join the Women’s Empowerment Principles.

Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) Regional Pilot in Gisborne

Vicky Mee

The New Zealand WEPs committee has had great success in attracting signatories from companies based in the main centres but to date there has been little promotion of the WEPs in regional areas.  This is all changing in 2015!


New research: UN Women’s Empowerment Principles survey results for NZ

Diversity of thought and decision-making is the key motivator behind the recruitment policies of some of New Zealand’s largest organisations, according to research presented for the first time at the White Camellia Awards event.

The White Camellia Awards: What the winners have learned along the way...

What the winners have learned along the way …

A common theme among the White Camellia Award winners was that they are on a journey and that achieving gender equality requires lots of small, conscious changes in every part of the business.

Stories from our Social Media

A very on point assessment from a smart little girl regarding the limitations of her favourite toy.Facebook logo 20x20 twitter-bird-white-on-blue - 20x20

Report highlights how more should be made of valuable insight offered by exit interview data and that organisations are missing out on opportunities to build a better workplace. Linkedin logo 20x18

Interesting article in the Herald this morning highlighting that now is the perfect time to evaluate your networking strategy and what you want it to achieve for you this year Facebook logo 20x20

A great example of how flexible working can be Facebook logo 20x20 twitter-bird-white-on-blue - 20x20

Happy Chinese New Year! What will the year of the horse mean for you in the workplace? twitter-bird-white-on-blue - 20x20

Research confirms flexible working arrangements should be top of the HR agenda for staff retention in 2014 twitter-bird-white-on-blue - 20x20

Successful Kiwi women dominate the international news today - great inspiration for women everywhere twitter-bird-white-on-blue - 20x20

gender diverse workforce is not just good news for employees but for business bottom lines twitter-bird-white-on-blue - 20x20

UK work from home week highlights poll stating 36% of workers seek greater flexibility twitter-bird-white-on-blue - 20x20

Employment confidence up amongst workers 30 - 50 years twitter-bird-white-on-blue - 20x20

Knowing what type of bully you're dealing with helps resolve problems twitter-bird-white-on-blue - 20x20

One everyday accessibility issue most of us don’t think about: door knobs twitter-bird-white-on-blue - 20x20

This article explores the nuances of the wage gap: the fatherhood bonus and the mommy penalty Facebook logo 20x20

Staying on top of your work isn’t worth your health. Watch out for these gadget-induced illnesses Facebook logo 20x20

Could your organisation benefit from reciprocal mentoring? twitter-bird-white-on-blue - 20x20

Learning to let go might be the best thing you've ever done, for both your career and your sanity  Linkedin logo 20x18

9 in 10 workers over the age of 50 are satisfied with their job. This report suggests this high level of satisfaction is related to being able to help out other people and being respected  Facebook logo 20x20

Only 24% of New Zealanders are actively engaged in their work and the world average is 13% - why so low? twitter-bird-white-on-blue - 20x20  Linkedin logo 20x18

Click here for more stories

Older News Stories

Congratulations to New Zealand’s first Professor of Diversity, Edwina Pio - September 2013 

120 years but a long way to go - September 2013 

TV3 interview about gender equity - September 2013 

A night to remember - September 2013 

Workplace Bullying: too costly to ignore - September 2013 

On-going learning makes cents - September 2013

Defence Minister applauds NZDF EEO success - Septmeber 2013 

NZDF's programme takes Supreme Award at Diversity Award's NZ 2013 - September 2013

Defence Force takes top prize in Diversity Awards - August 2013 

Release of the Health and Wellbeing Index - July 2013

Shadowing a Leader - July 2013 

April 2013 Editorial - April 2013

MP Steps Down to Become EEO Commissioner - April 2013

Bias Bruises Business - March 2013 

Engineering Students in Pole Position - March 2013 

Living & Working in New Zealand's Most Diverse City - December 2012

In Bev we Trust - December 2012

New EEO Trust Leader - December 2012 

Congratulations to the EEO Trust's  Chairman - November 2012