Engaging and Retaining older workers in Rural Community Aged Care The scope of this paper is to look at effective ways to engage and retain older workers to deliver quality community Aged care services in rural Australia. The ageing population has resulted in a necessity to recruit older workers to fill positions in all industries including the aged care sector. "We are in the midst of the most significant demographic shift in modern human history where populations across the globe are ageing” (Safework SA 2013, Age Friendly Workplace p2). For Uniting Care agencies in rural communities there are difficulties associated with employing and retaining Nurses. The average age of a Blue Care staff member within Queensland is forty-eight years old with the average age of Registered Nurses within the North Burnett is fifty-eight years. It may be a good thing that our workforce is older because it could place Uniting Care in a marketing advantage to better cater for the needs of older people. Personal experience indicates that older people like older people to care for them as they relate to them better. Some staff have not taken early retirement due to the global financial crisis and personal choice to continue to work for social reasons. People are living longer and if they retire early they may run out of money. There are some challenges associated with older employees for example information technology skills, keeping healthy and the need for flexible working arrangements. However, the value that older people bring to a community Aged Care service cannot be overlooked. We need to plan for the future to deliver quality Aged care in a persons’ place of choice.
In Australia the age for compulsory retirement was lifted in 2001 and then the Antidiscrimination Act was expanded to include age discrimination in 2004. Despite this fact there are many Australians continuing to retire early. Fiona Marsden’s storey Growth Industry: Releasing Mature Potential (2012) states "The federal treasurers intergenerational report projects that by 2050, there will be twice as many people aged 65-84, and more than four times as many people older than 85. In contrast, the number of working-age Australians will increase by just 44%". Fiona also goes on to say “Deloitte access economics say that by boosting mature age participation by just 3% it could increase GDP by 33 billion”. According to the Diversity Council of Australia (2013) media release, “Better aligning workforce and customer demographics can help improve understanding of changing market needs and demands and therefor customer service and product development”. Therefore, it makes good sense to encourage older people to stay in the workforce and attract older workers from other sectors into the aged care industry.
There are many people that would like to continue to work beyond the traditional age of retirement for financial security, to learn new skills and remain healthy and active. Interviews with older Blue Care staff members revealed that they felt that an older employee can offer a broad range of skills, better customer service and experience. A younger person maybe quicker at doing more physical or strenuous tasks. However, a fit and active older person maybe just as capable in this area. Blue Care human resource management metrics show that our older workers use less sick days. There are some schools of thought that older workers are more likely to have injuries and take longer to recover. Contrary to this we have a younger worker that has had more injuries and more sick days than any other employee. Older Blue Care staff members also felt that younger workers may have better information technology (IT) skills. It is felt that this barrier to employing older workers maybe overcome with a desire to be coached and kept up-to-date in the field of IT.
There are significant benefits in terms of productivity to a business to retain older workers. We know from...
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