Managing an ageing workforce: Healthy transition to retirement

The median age of a worker in the mining industry is 40 years, so it’s important now to consider the specific needs of a workforce over 40.

We’ve all heard about Australia’s ageing workforce, but what does this actually mean to the mining industry?

In Australia, one in four people is over the age of 55, and this figure is expected to increase to one in three over the coming decade, according to the University of Melbourne.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics stated that the median age of a worker in the mining industry is 41 years.

With the industry accounting for 1.7 per cent (or almost 240,000) of the country’s total workforce, it’s important to consider the needs of a workforce over the age of 40.

Welcoming and retaining mature-aged workers can be beneficial. We consider four key areas that might assist you to achieve a productive, healthy and safe work environment for everyone, while also creating a culture that includes and values older workers.

Suitability and adaptability

Proactively assessing and monitoring a worker’s ability to perform their role safely and with minimal risk of injury is essential.

How effectively this is done can heavily influence productivity, recovery times and absenteeism.

Assess, clearly document and communicate the demands of the job being performed
● Objectively measure and monitor your workers’ ability to perform the job safely
Train and retrain: Refreshing workers’ training on how to perform their job safely is an extremely effective way to prevent injuries. This may also form an integral part of a company’s plan for an injured worker returning to work

Health and wellbeing

While soft tissue injuries are prominent in many workplaces, other underlying health conditions and lifestyle factors can influence how a worker performs in their role.

Encouraging all workers to have regular health checks, or offering these for free in the workplace, is a great way to proactively monitor and manage the health of your workforce.

Mini-medical assessments and population health reports will give you some great insights into the overall health of your workforce, and will be key to informing your health & wellbeing strategy.

As we age, we should be more mindful of conditions like heart disease, diabetes and visual and hearing impairments. Some of these health conditions can also have a significant impact on injury recovery times.

Transition to retirement

When talking about transition to retirement, many resources in the marketplace refer to financial and lifestyle preparations. But what if an employee wants to continue to work?

Putting a program in place to help an older worker remain at work will require some careful planning (and consideration of the above two points). A transition program might include:
● Role modifications
● Shared duties
● Flexible or reduced hours; and/or
● Training and redeployment to a new role

This approach allows businesses to meet operational and safety needs, create a more positive work culture, maintains and improves productivity and offer a more reasonable transition out of the workforce for older employees.

Mindset and culture
Instilling an attitude of appreciation for mature aged workers creates a positive and encouraging culture, and it’s essential that this is both endorsed and demonstrated by the leaders of the business.

Older workers can bring experience, knowledge, loyalty and reliability to a business. These traits can be advantageous for training, mentoring roles, reducing staff turnover and process improvement.

If you’d like to learn more about how you can develop a strategy to monitor the health and wellbeing of your workforce, help older workers remain at happy and productive at work, and ultimately improve the culture of your workplace, contact the team at Work Healthy Australia.

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