FinTechs that buy into workplace stereotypes about older workers run the risk of missing out on employees who bring a wealth of valuable experience, expertise, and commitment to their role.
Here are some of the facts and myths surrounding older workers, and how FinTechs can leverage the value of this group with age-friendly workplace policies and strategies.
Snapshot of older workers in the workforce
Australia has an ageing population, and this is reflected in the workforce. Many older people are also choosing to remain in the workforce beyond retirement age.
Almost 20% of all workers in June 2019 were aged over 55, an Ai Group economics factsheet shows. Of these, 610,000 were over 65. This is more than double the number of workers over 65 in 2009.
Approximately 13% (325,000) of workers aged over 55 in June 2019 were employed in financial and insurance services. About one-quarter of these were over 65.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare figures show the percentage of Australians over 45 intending to work until age 70 increased from 8% in 2005 to 20% in 2017.
Myths of older workers
Older workers are often described in terms of inaccurate workplace stereotypes.
According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, some of the myths include that mature workers cost more, perform more poorly, and are less able to learn new skills than younger workers.
However, there is no evidence to support these assumptions. Older workers in fact can save on costs as they are less likely to switch jobs, and as a collective are no less capable than their younger counterparts when it comes to performance and learning new skills.
It’s important that FinTechs seeking to support older workers take steps to dispel the myths and generalisations about them and to reduce workplace ageism.
Practical strategies for managing older workers
There are a number of strategies that can help FinTechs get the most out of older workers.
Match jobs to individual skill levels rather than age.
Consider offering flexible hours, or partial or phased retirement options when that time comes.
Involve older workers in decision-making about their jobs.
Avoid the assumption that older people need less mentally-challenging jobs.
Develop mixed-age teams to ensure the experience of older workers is spread throughout the business.
Consider employing some older workers in frontline service roles to facilitate greater engagement with customers and stakeholders.
Develop a practice of seeking the best person for the job rather than someone in a particular age bracket.
Encourage older workers to apply for advertised jobs by emphasising experience and expertise.
Reskilling / training:
Involve older workers in decisions about their training and development.
Tailor training to the skill level of workers and not to age groups.
Building an age-friendly workplace culture
It’s also important to build a workplace culture where all employees can thrive. Here are some tips.
Develop age-friendly policies and age-related retention strategies, like flexible hours and wellbeing programs.
Encourage older workers to keep working past retirement.
Establish strong support mechanisms for older workers, as employees who feel supported are less likely to retire early.
Provide awareness training for management and recruitment personnel on unconscious ageism.
Arrange organisational diversity training seminars if necessary.
Language and imagery:
Use age-neutral language and images in your internal communications and on your website.
Avoid the use of the word ‘generation’ in communications as it can reinforce workplace stereotypes.
Diverse team building:
Develop mentoring programs that enable skills sharing and training between diverse age groups.
Establish mixed-aged teams and encourage age-diverse collaboration.
Ultimately, the best way for FinTechs to support older workers is to recognise unconscious age-related bias in the workplace and take steps to eliminate it and treat all workers as individuals, regardless of age.
Involve older workers in their own training, development, and job design, build flexibility into the workplace to facilitate careers, and make the most of their valuable experience!
Gen Advisory, "How ADIs can support Australia's older workers" whitepaper, November 2019.