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How is COVID-19 impacting Australia’s older workers?

As Australia’s unemployment rate rose to 6.9% in September amidst the ongoing impacts of COVID-19, a Humanforce survey revealed that 42% of older workers said they had recently lost their job or had their hours reduced. Over half (52%) also said they had suffered financially due to the pandemic.

12/03/2020

As Australia’s unemployment rate rose to 6.9% in September amidst the ongoing impacts of COVID-19, a Humanforce survey revealed that 42% of older workers said they had recently lost their job or had their hours reduced. Over half (52%) also said they had suffered financially due to the pandemic.

 

COVID-19 isn’t just affecting youth employment

Over the past nine months we have heard a lot about the huge impact of the pandemic on Australia’s youth unemployment, which rose to 14.5% in September. But, Humanforce’s research has highlighted that a high proportion of older workers are also being affected by unemployment, reduced hours and financial stress.

The ongoing impacts of COVID-19 means older workers are now more open minded to different types of employment, with 41% open to casual employment and 39% open to any type of work. Only 11% of older workers said they wouldn’t consider casual employment.

The rising unemployment rates resulting from COVID-19 are changing the face of work across the world. Humanforce’s research shows that one of the flow-on effects could be that older Australians who lose their job because of the pandemic will be transitioning into different types of work, including casual work. This means employers need to look closer at how they can best support employee engagement amongst older Australians working in casual roles

 

What are older workers looking for when considering casual roles?

Older Australian workers said the key factors they would look for in casual employment would be a stable income (70%), a reliable number of days and hours (65%) and flexibility with days and hours (62%).

 

Older workers ready to embrace new technologies at work

A common misconception about older workers is that they aren’t open to learning new technologies or skills as part of their job. Yet the overwhelming majority of older workers Humanforce surveyed were supportive of casual jobs where automated technologies were used or where they could retrain or learn new skills.

Almost three-quarters (73%) of older workers said they are open to using automated technologies and 85% are open to retraining or learning new skills in a new role. Most of them (65%) also said that the best way to support employee engagement of older workers in using technology at work would be through training provided by a manager or colleague.

 

Older workers vital to the future of Australia’s casual workforce

Australian businesses are going to need casual workers to assist in their recovery from COVID-19. There are also sectors, like aged care, where significantly more casual workers are going to be required in the future. As older Australians become more open to casual work due to the pandemic, this is an opportunity for employers to also become more open minded about employing and engaging them in casual roles.”

To learn more about employee engagement download the How Employee Engagement is Shaping Modern HR Management whitepaper.

 

Methodology

Humanforce contracted Zoho Survey to survey 500 older worker respondents (workers of ages 45 and over) as part of this research project.

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