Australian government recognises importance of older workers for the economy

– $1,000 bonus paid to hire a worker over 50

Businesses in Australia have been encouraged to find ways older workers can bring experience and value to their teams after the Government introduced a new $1,000 bonus for companies that hire workers over the age of 50.

The move comes as the Australian economy continues to deal with an aging workforce, creating skills gaps, as it also attempts to deal with the number of workers who prefer to work part-time in less demanding roles to supplement retirement incomes.

Treasurer Wayne Swan announced the $1,000 bonus payments as part of a response to the Economic Potential of Senior Australians report, which also included $15.6 million to extend the Corporate Champions program, and $3.9 million to extend the Career Advice service by two years.The Government will spend $10 million on the $1,000 bonus payments for employers who recruit and retain a mature age job seeker for more than three months.“The Government commissioned the EPSA report because we understand that the ageing of our population brings great opportunities for our country and our economy if we better harness the skills and experience of older Australians,” Swan said in a statement.

Martin Nally, managing director of HR services company HRAnywhere, says there is always an opportunity to add more experience to an organisation through hiring older workers.Nally says while businesses will need to perform some due diligence to see whether they qualify, adding a more experienced staff member is always a good idea – although it depends where they serve. “If organisations could bring people into their businesses and help them rediscover some services such as customer service, people with a little grey hair are absolutely perfect for that opportunity.”

“There are plenty of other areas as well, be it accounting expertise, or marketing or research expertise, where aged workers don’t need an induction and you can gain expertise quickly.” There’s another method, Nally says – hiring people who have already worked for your business. If you have some workers who have left, it may be time to bring them back.“It’s the interesting concept of the boomerang theory, where you look at people who have been in your organisation previously, and then boomerang them back in. They add value without having to be inducted and trained.”

Nally also says businesses should consider that hiring an older worker doesn’t necessarily mean they need to take a full-time role.“People can get confused around that. Permanent can mean part-time, it doesn’t have to mean full-time.”