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everything from showers to continence
management. All of that, [especially over
time], takes a physical and emotional toll
on the worker."
So rather than wait for the employee to
retire for reasons of poor health, he says,
the employer should utilise the mature
worker's experience and skills and offer a
move to a mentoring or leadership role.
Norris also suggests that providers
implement a range of age-friendly
workplace policies, developed by a group
of key and varied stakeholders -- line
managers, human resources staff and
mature worker representatives. The
policies should then be championed
throughout the organisation from the top
down, starting with the CEO.
The provider's next step is to conduct
'stay' interviews -- not retirement
interviews -- with all employees aged 45.
In these interviews, Norris advises,
employers should ask staff: what are the
things we need to do to encourage you to
stay in your workplace longer? What are
your career intentions? What are your
learning intentions? Are you happy in
your current role?
Ideally, managers should also receive
'stay interview' training and education,
covering age discrimination do's and
don'ts, details of what they should and
should not say, and how best to offer
a mature worker the support they
"The main point about having the
conversation is [to find out what the
individual worker thinks]," Norris says.
"Each person will have their own desires
and needs. We might have our own
thoughts on what the person's well-being
and functional capacities are but we might
be completely surprised about what that
person's plans or thoughts are."
LEARNING FROM OTHERS
Last year, National Australia Bank
(NAB) was rated by the American social
change organisation, AARP, as the
"best employer for workers over 50 -
And although banks do not usually
rank high in the popularity stakes, NAB is
highly regarded by employment experts
for the way they value their staff.
Diversity and inclusion consultant
in NAB's people and culture division,
Pam Spencer, explains that NAB has
committed to the process of revisiting
all policies and practices, from those on
long-service leave to superannuation, to
ensure they are age-neutral.
In July 2011, the bank also began rolling
out the mature age worker retention
program, My Future, in every NAB
workplace in every Australian city.
"The program is not about retirement
planning but about planning for an
employee's future," says Spencer.
Based on a 2010 pilot and the resulting
feedback from participating staff, the
program focuses on the planning elements
that mature aged NAB staff said they
wanted help with and information on.
My Future therefore features a
half-day workshop for staff aged 50 and
over, or younger if there is interest,
which focuses on work goals; financial,
health and wellbeing planning; workplace
flexibility, and notions of identity.
Initially, employees receive a personal
invitation to attend the workshop from
their manager, or 'people leader' as
NAB calls it. But, Spencer stresses, the
program is optional.
Workshops are followed up with a
seminar six-to-eight weeks later, where
staff discuss the actions they have put in
place as a result of the initial workshop.
"The uptake has been quite
overwhelming... Since the program began,
600 people have opted in and we've run
The main outcome, Spencer says,
is that employees "leave the workshop
thinking about their future for the
first time or they just think about it
differently. If they haven't already
thought about extending their career,
then hopefully they will think about the
opportunities available to them".
Managers of mature age workers
enrolled in the program are also required
to attend their own My Future workshop.
There, they receive information about
why NAB is running the workshops and
how best they can work with mature
age employees to help them plan their
"We tell our managers that 13 per
cent of the workforce is aged over 50.
That equates to 3,700 people who have
vast experience and knowledge and have
formed [strong] customer relationships.
We say that if you think you have a skill
shortage now, how do you think you will
cope in 2020?
"This helps them to understand that
this is a business issue and [mature age
worker retention] NAB's strategy to
"...There's also a lot of power and
passion in a program that staff believe
in. When you've got senior leaders
inviting people to workshops and telling
employees that they should go along, I
think that's a very powerful thing." n
26 | JANUARY -- FEBRUARY 2012 | AAA
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