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Why workplaces need to be more age-friendly

Australians could be healthier and have longer careers if only workplaces were more age-friendly, a report by the Australian National University has found.

The study used data from a survey conducted across the country over the last 10 years, and assessed yearly changes in the health, wellbeing and welfare dependency of workers and those moving into retirement.

More than 1700 people between the age of 45 and 64 were surveyed.

Lead researcher Dr Cathy Gong said health was the main challenge for older workers and those leaving the workforce.

“Age-friendly workplaces, work flexibility, retraining and promotion of healthy lifestyles are vital to address the major causes of not working, enable people to have longer careers and enhance wellbeing in later life,” Gong said.

“People who left paid work involuntarily experienced significant decreases in their satisfaction with their finances, health and life, just in general.

“They were also more likely to be psychologically distressed and welfare dependent.”

Gong said people who were forced to retire early due to job loss or their own health reported significant declines in their income and wellbeing in retirement.

Co-researcher Professor Hal Kendig said the findings indicated that employment policies needed to change to give mature-aged workers more control over their work environment and retirement.

“Voluntary retirement with control over the timing and manner of retirement has a positive impact on a retiree’s psychological and social wellbeing,” Kendig said.

“Enabling mature-aged workers to have longer careers offers benefits for both individual wellbeing and government budgets.”

The research, supported by the ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing (CEPAR), is published in the Australasian Journal on Ageing.

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