Senior Research Fellow Daniela Andrei and Research Fellow Jane Chong presented research on COVID-19 and Mature Workers at the Mature Workers in Organisations Policy Dialogue. The hybrid-style event brought together Australian and international experts, policymakers, industry representatives and researchers to consider current and future challenges of the ageing workforce It was held at the Australian National University on the 10th of June.
The presentation first introduced the importance of studying mature workers in the context of the pandemic due to the unique combination of factors that this group of workers face, such as higher morbidity rates and pre-existing barriers to employment that have been amplified by COVID-19. It then highlighted wider research on COVID-19 and mature workers before diving into the CEPAR team’s contribution to the literature.
There have been several research commentaries discussing the characteristics of the pandemic and how it can influence mature workers. Yet, there remains limited empirical research testing these propositions. Importantly, experts encourage both researchers and practitioners to focus on developing evidence-based interventions to mitigate age-related effects of COVID-19 on employees.
Research that is being undertaken by CEPAR’s Organisations and the Mature Workforce Stream aims to contribute to a better understanding of mature workers’ work experience during the pandemic, and the factors that contribute to their wellbeing, performance, and participation in the workforce. In 2020, we launched a longitudinal study on how adults aged 45 and over were affected and responded to the impacts of COVID-19. Preliminary findings revealed a decreasing trend in the quality of work for mature workers, with scores for relational aspects of work, scheduling flexibility, task variety and tolerable demands at work being lower in November 2020 compared to June 2020. While the decreases are small in magnitude, the overall decreasing trend is concerning given that the quality of work that mature employees experience has lagged-effects on their wellbeing and career involvement such as withdrawal, burnout, and engagement. Findings also show that employees continue to perform while receiving less support from HR practices and good work design, which might be a pre-emptor for employee well-being issues. These findings highlight a need for organisations-with the support of national policies-to focus on inclusive, individualised, and integrative strategies to effectively support an age-diverse workforce during the pandemic.
Click on the presentation below to download