Making mature age employment work

Making mature age employment work
The fact that we have an ageing population is well known. The number of people aged 65 and over in Hong Kong is set to increase from 13% in 2011 to 30% in 2041 — and the rate of population ageing will accelerate in the next 20 years. According to a recent government manpower study, up to 300,000 Baby Boomers will retire by 2018.

Skills shortages in many sectors are already clearly prevalent, and yet many of our mature-age workers are finding it difficult to get a job.

Hong Kong’s 201/13 World of Work Report shows the ageing population, lower birth rates and fewer new workforce entrants will have a significant impact on the management pipeline. Yet, employers remain largely unconcerned about Baby Boomers leaving the workforce in great numbers — just 53% believe it will impact their organisation negatively.

Research has shown that mature-age workers are more loyal, with average tenures of five to six years compared to between 18 months and four years for Generations X and Y. However, Mature-age workers place a premium on work-life balance, so employers need to look at providing flexible working arrangements – and making the offering unique to each individual. Employers should see the immense value in this, particularly while the market remains challenging. 

One of the most obvious qualities older employees possess in greater measure than their younger counterparts is experience. And the adage is right: there’s no substitute for it. Mature age workers, like any other employees, enjoy challenging and rewarding employment, and can be more productive by drawing on their years of experience. They will often achieve the same outcomes as younger workers by working smarter rather than harder. 


Be open to employing mature age workers. Work with HR and your recruitment partner to find the most effective work structure for mature age workers in the organisation. Work-life balance is essential, so the key is to be flexible. 

Realise the benefits.
Understand the value that mature age workers will bring to your business, with their depth of skills and wealth of experience. It may be more cost-effective to hire a mature age worker on a part-time basis who can ‘hit the ground running’, than employ a junior person full-time that requires a lot of training, supervision and ‘hand-holding’, particularly if you want to achieve a return on investment as quickly as possible. 

Be creative.
Many mature age workers would consider taking on a new job opportunity or a new role, by applying their skills and experience in a new way. For instance, consider employing a mature age accountant with a background working for large corporations, (even if it is only for a short-term basis). This person would have a vast amount of experience and could provide you with valuable business advice. 

Focus on retention.
Once employed, find out what is important to each individual and work hard to meet those needs as the benefits will pay off for your business.

Provide further training.
Mature age workers often need to brush up on essential skills, particularly with regard to technology. Offering training and development relevant to their needs and encouraging their participation will result in a happier, more engaged and productive workforce.

Ensure there is ongoing, tailored communication throughout the employment cycle. You may need to communicate flexible working options, the various training and development programs available, and news and highly relevant information as part of your retention strategy

Maintain contact.
Maintain relationships with mature age people when they leave the business. They may be willing to return in the future and this can be easily achieved through social networking.

Posted: Tuesday, 12 November 2013 - 5:10 PM