Retaining Australian older workers - a literature review

PHILIP TAYLOR, FEDERATION UNIVERSITY, LOUISE ROLLAND, EY, JING ZHOU, FEDERATION UNIVERSITY

April 2017

Against a backdrop of population ageing and with it concerns about the future funding of social welfare systems and availability of labour there is increasing public policy interest in pushing out the final age of labour market withdrawal. Australian research also indicates that there is interest among employers in how to manage their ageing workforces. While there is a substantial recent body of literature concerned with workforce ageing this has yet to be thoroughly distilled for practical purposes. This paper considers the recent literature on older workers’ employment from the perspective of what can be learned that will inform the employment practices of Australian business. The report focuses on areas considered critical to the management of an ageing workforce: workplace culture; leadership; individual development; job design; health and well-being; financial and career planning. The report takes a critical stance, noting, for instance, that some of the management literature that purports to help increase employer capacity to respond well to workforce ageing is simplistic and unsupported by a solid evidence base and therefore unlikely to be very effective. Nonetheless, useful lessons for employer practice are identified.