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Older workers employment toolkit

Older workers employment toolkit

As the population ages and more people work later in life, New Zealand’s workforce will include more people aged over 50.

This toolkit will help you hire, develop, and retain older workers. It includes information about:

  • training and development
  • health, safety and wellbeing
  • flexibility to meet the needs of an older workforce

Three reasons to hire older workers

Businesses can benefit from employing older people because they bring a strong work ethic, positive attitude and can boost workplace productivity by passing on important skills and knowledge to your team.

They’re loyal, reliable and stay in jobs longer

Older workers are motivated to continue earning as they are more likely to have financial commitments and families to support, which means they tend to stay in jobs longer.

They bring experience and skills

Older workers can provide a wealth of knowledge and skills that come with their lifetime of work experience. They can share their knowledge with younger team mates, helping boost productivity.

They create a diverse workplace

Having employees of different ages provides a balanced workplace, with a range of viewpoints, problem-solving skills, attitudes, and ideas.

Older workers are aged 50 and over

Using the phrase ‘older worker’

We call someone an ‘older worker’ in this toolkit to help people feel comfortable talking about age and using the term ‘older’. We know that people can make a valuable contribution to a workplace at any age.

Those aged 50 and older face unique circumstances and complex challenges in finding and staying in work.

At this age, people are more likely to face redundancy and age discrimination.

It can take longer for an older person to return to work and can mean accepting a role that is below their skill level or paid less.

An older worker may need to consider a career change or need flexibility in their work for a variety of reasons.

Older workers include those aged 50 and older. A quarter of people aged 65 and over are part of the workforce because they want or need to be.

There is no official retirement age in New Zealand and many people continue to work beyond the age of 65 because they want to or need to.

There is no official retirement age in New Zealand and many people continue to work beyond the age of 65 because they want to or need to.

Knowing your business

The ageing workforce is something that all businesses are already facing. It is a good idea to assess your business readiness and how it is adapting to this change.

This involves knowing the age profile of your business – that means the age of your staff, the intentions of your older staff who are in critical roles, and any age-related trends when recruiting new staff or when staff leave your business.

The Ageing Workforce Review is an online self-assessment tool that can help you with this assessment. Answer the online survey and receive a tailored report with information, advice and links to resources.

Ageing Workforce Review(external link) — Better Work in Later Life

Case study

Case study

Job shadow pays off

Nico’s top bricklayer Reece is starting to feel the effects of 40 years in the trade — his back aches constantly. Reece worries about doing permanent damage. Nico doesn’t want to lose such a valued employee. Reece has been the heart and soul of his building firm. The knowledge he holds is invaluable.

Dana, a competent administrator and bookkeeper in her 20s, works in the office. She’s been with the business for two years and wants to take on more responsibility. Nico senses Dana is bored. He worries she may also leave.

Like most business owners, Nico is pulled in many directions. He can’t afford to lose staff. Besides, he needs another person who knows how to cost jobs to ease his load.

After talking to a trades manager friend, Nico decides combining Dana and Reece’s skills could solve his employee/workload issue. Reece has worked on hundreds of building projects. He knows the supplies needed to complete a job, without waste. Reece isn’t great with spreadsheets, but Dana is.

Nico talks to Reece and Dana. He asks if they’re interested in taking on costing work. Together, they figure out a job shadowing plan.

Dana starts spending a couple of days a week on site with Reece. Reece shares stories about past projects, and Dana observes how things are done on the job. Another two days a week, Reece comes into the office with Dana to learn computer skills.

In time, Nico feels confident delegating costing work to Dana and Reece. Reece’s back is grateful for less time on the tools. Dana feels more motivated. Plus, Reece’s ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’ approach helps her put some of the customer service stuff she finds stressful into perspective. 


Age Concern NZ

Age Concern NZ provides information and support services to meet the needs of people aged 65 and over, including tips for finding employment. 

Working after 65(external link) — Age Concern NZ

Better Work in Later Life 

Better Work in Later Life provides evidence-based resources for employers and older workers, including a range of case studies and fact sheets. 

Resources for employers(external link) — Better Work in Later Life


Connected offers support and guidance for business in areas such as recruiting, retaining and upskilling staff across Government. 

Support for business(external link) — Connected NZ

Diversity Works

Diversity Works is New Zealand’s national body for workplace diversity, equity and inclusion. It provides links and resources to ensure organisations can support an age-diverse workforce. 

Age inclusive workplaces(external link) — Diversity Works New Zealand

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