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Knowledge lost as older workers leave workforce

23 February, 2015

According to a report on older workers, less than a quarter of the respondents to a survey of human resource professionals say that their organisation takes routine steps to capture the knowledge of workers as they transition out of the workforce.

With the large number of baby boomers now leaving the workforce, the potential for permanent loss of intellectual property by Australian business is considerable.

The HR Pulse study, just released by the Australian Human Resources Institute, reports on findings of a survey sample of 1931 respondents conducted online in November and December last year.

Other findings of the survey include:

  • Respondents identified the main benefits of recruiting older workers as the experience they bring to the workplace, the professional knowledge they have acquired, and their reliability
  • A majority of respondents believe older workers are more loyal, reliable, aware and committed and have better levels of attendance than younger workers
  • They also believe, however, that younger workers have more energy, career ambition, technology skills, creativity, and are more physically capable than older workers
  • Retirement, redundancy, illness and injury are identified by respondents as the most common reasons why older workers leave the workplace
  • Around three quarters (77 per cent) of respondents say line managers in their workplace are offered no training in ways to manage different generations
  • Slightly more than half the sample group (53 per cent) say age-related bias seldom or never occurs in their workplace
  • Almost four out of ten respondents (38 per cent) would classify a worker as old if the worker was between the ages of 50-55 (13 per cent) or 56-60 (25 per cent)
  • Only 3 per cent of respondents report that their workplace has ever considered menopause as a HR issue

Commenting on the report, AHRI chairman, Peter Wilson AM, said: "It is encouraging to see that only a small proportion (12 per cent) of respondents believe that age-related bias is common in their workplace. However, with around a third (35 per cent) of respondents acknowledging bias sometimes occurs, it appears to be an issue which requires a degree of attention."

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