Ageing Workforce – The “Coaching” Solution, By Wayne Bishop

In recent months I have had the opportunity to meet with employers, employees and industry groups throughout eastern Australia. I discovered that most employers are remarkably unprepared for the skills shortages and boomer exits that will surface in the next decade. This will be compounded by a two speed economy and resources boom that, according to Deloitte Access Economics, will create a “perfect storm” as the demand for labour exceeds supply.

Despite these business risks, most organisations are still operating from a reactive point of view, demonstrating apathy, complacency and a lack of urgency around these business risks. The situation is more acute in regional areas and the small business sector.

Most leadership teams have heard about the “ageing workforce” but have limited understanding of the business relevance – or risk. I found few organisations:

  • • had items relating to ageing workforce in their strategic plans or business plans.
  • • had the ageing workforce as a part of traditional business assumptions, modelling or
  • reporting criteria.
  • • have a systemic view of workforce management supported by robust metrics.
  • • understand the retirement intentions of their mature cohort.
  • • have a formal succession strategy
  • • have planned for the retention of tacit and explicit knowledge leaving their workplace through mature age exits in the next decade.

• Of equal concern – I also found that few mature employees have a purposeful plan or strategy for life beyond work

Why is there such apathy and complacency?

In the small to medium sized enterprises (which compromises over 90% of businesses in Australia) there is no formal HR management function and few business owners or leaders are aware of the challenges ahead.

Where there is an HR function, managers are time poor, often reacting to operational requests and have little time for strategic planning/applications. Further, ageing workforce is a complex issue and tailored solutions take time – which may not fit with existing reporting/performance criteria.

What is the solution?

There is clearly no quick fix. Ageing workforce is a complex issue that requires an integrated set of strategies and practices. In this context Activetics has developed a “coaching” model where experienced third party professionals provide assistance to leadership teams and provide project managers (or Champions) with the coaching/mentoring required to address these emerging challenges.

The model works. It is proving to be cost effective and is being adopted by forward thinking employers across a range of sectors. For more information contact Wayne Bishop at Activetics.

Email Wayne at:wbishop@activetics.com.au   or call Mobile: 0418 175 612