The aging workforce is not a new topic to ASSE members, as there have been several conference papers over the past decade providing guidance on managing older workers. Of particular note are the contributions by Alma Jackson and Joel Haight. In Jackson's 2007 ASSE conference paper, she stated that, "[B]y the year 2010 the 45 years and older age group will be the largest cohort in the workplace." We are now beyond 2010, and Australia, with a rapidly aging population, is no different from the rest of the western world.
Since the 1960s, the average age of the full-time workforce in Australia has been increasing faster than the general population. Given this demographic, organisations wishing to sustain their current levels of productivity not only need to embrace the mature labour market, they need to target it. Also, the loss of a significant proportion of mature workers to retirement over the next 5 to 10 years as Baby Boomers (those born from 1943 to 1960) retire means a loss of critical organisational, technical and leadership skills.
However, physical capacity declines with age, and workers 65 years and over have a five-percent increase in the number of serious injury claims when compared to other adult workers. In increased time lost to injury and increased earnings, their medium claim payment is five times greater than for employees aged 15–19 year. As aging is an individual process, one centralized intervention program is not feasible, and employment interventions for older persons need to be tailored to meet the needs of the worker and the employer. Case studies will be used to demonstrate some specific intervention strategies.