An ageing population – how to make this work for your organisation


A few weeks ago we published a blog about the importance of candidate care when recruiting and consideration of an applicant’s frustrations when applying for in excess of 100 positions, and on many occasions the applicant received no communication in relation to their application.
Considering other points raised in the article I want to share more thoughts about issues related to hiring an ageing workforce. The writer of the article was 55 years old and had made 115 applications for jobs over a 2 year period.

work or retire retirement signs

The numbers are stacked towards New Zealand having an ageing workforce. New Zealand has an increasing proportion of people in the older age group and a declining proportion of children.
This information quoted from the Department of Statistics is salient: “The proportion of the population under 15 years of age has declined from around 33 per cent in the early 1960s to 21 per cent in 2009 and is expected to fall to 18 percent by 2031.
The population aged 65 years and over has increased from 11 per cent of the total population in 1991 to 13 per cent in 2009. It is expected to reach 21 per cent by 2031. The number of people aged 65 years and over is projected to increase from around 550,000 in 2009 to 1 million in the late 2020s, when they will outnumber children.”

These predictions are only 15 years away!

It is time to start thinking about the impact these changing demographics will have on your organisation going forward.
Ask yourself

  • Do you know the demographic breakdown of your staff?
  • What is the ideal demographic make up for your business?
  • Can your business incorporate older workers in a variety of roles?
  • How flexible are you in your hiring policies? (Do you automatically default to the younger candidates?)
  • Do you currently have or have you considered creating policies and practices on how to retain, manage, and recruit to maximize the potential of an ageing workforce.
  • Does your induction/training cater for those who are in the older demographic?


A more mature team member can offer a wide range of experience and wisdom. A report by OCG Consulting states that “Mature employees represent a valuable and often untapped source of increased productivity for organisations. Their research has found that older workers have a strong drive to work, as well as a growing financial imperative to do so following the blow to their savings during the GFC. Yet despite this, ‘grey workers’ are underrepresented in the workforce and overrepresented in the joblessness rate.”

Some key findings from the report on the impact of an ageing workforce on NZ Business are.

  • Half (51%) of those candidates interviewed who are not currently working need to return to work to sufficiently fund themselves through retirement.
  • Employers perceive older workers as more experienced and more reliable, yet less computer literate, more resistant to change and more prone to health issues.
  • There is also a real benefit to be gained from employing older workers. Most (59%) of employers note that there is a shortage of highly experienced workers in their industry. By the same token, 48% agree that older workers are a relatively untapped resource in their industry
  • Why aren’t firms hiring older workers? The key reason according to employers is simply that older workers do not apply for the roles advertised.
  • Despite the productivity benefits employers note that older workers bring, and the diversity advantage available, few organisations have structures in place to reap these dividends - just 18% of employers have specific planning strategies around ageing workforce participation.
  • The data indicates that age related discrimination is a problem in New Zealand. 46% of employers and 32% of employees believe age discrimination is a problem in their industry.


The bottom line is you want the best person for the role based on experience, attitude and fit. But as the labour market tightens you may want to keep the above in mind as you do your workforce planning.

If your business is based in the top of the South you may be interested in the latest newsletter from the Health Action Trust and a symposium that has been initiated by the Trust that will be run in Nelson on 4 September 2014.  (To subscribe to the newsletter email:

See details of the content for the symposium in Nelson or to register here.

Finally to share a cheeky comic strip from the latest Health Action Newsletter:

ageing workforce


By Emma Worseldine

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