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Maximising Potential: Findings from the Mature Workers in Organisations Survey (MWOS)

Mature workers

Daniela Andrei, Sharon Parker, Andreea Constantin, Marian Baird, Lucinda Iles, Gretchen Petery, Leah Zoszak, Alison Williams, Shannon Chen

By 2050, almost one third of Australia’s population will be older than 60 (p. 9). With an ageing population and workforce, Australia, like many OECD countries, faces the challenge of adapting workplaces and work practices to meet the needs and interests of this changed demographic.

This report is based on research findings from a large-scale survey (N = 2009) of Australian workers aged 18 to 81. A convenience sample was obtained using online Australian panels. Our interest is in the mature workforce, so workers over 45 years were over-sampled. Younger workers were included for comparison purposes. 51% of the sample is male, and 49% is female. The sample is mostly metropolitan based (72%) and includes workers in a broad range of occupations, industries, and job roles. The spread of jobs is similar to national samples, although caution should be exercised when making inferences from this study to the Australian population.

The report is based on self-reported data collected at a single point in time and does not allow for causal inferences. Age group comparisons do not adjust for non-age specific differences in the groups. Whilst in our research we define mature workers as employees aged 45 and over, our analysis revealed consistent shifts in experiences for employees aged 55 and over. Therefore in the executive summary we highlight results for these mature workers in particular.

The survey focused on as perception of organizational practices that can support mature workers, as well as the lived experience of mature workers, according to three key themes:

  • Include – workers being welcomed and valued, irrespective of age;
  • Individualise – work that is adjusted to accommodate the changing needs and preferences of mature workers;
  • Integrate –communication and knowledge sharing across diverse age groups.
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