Case Study Small Business Australia

1. Mature Age case study

Westpac believes in offering programs and support for mature age workers.

Westpac Banking Corporation was founded in 1817 and has branches throughout Australia, New Zealand and the near Pacific region and maintains offices in key financial centres around the world. More than 20 per cent of Westpac’s workforce is mature age.

Westpac believes by offering programs and support, targeted at mature age workers they can continue to retain and attract the best talent in the market. The benefits that Westpac have available for 50+ employees include flexible work options (such as flexible hours, work from home and part time work), a variety of leave options including Grandparental leave, and discounted financial planning.

Westpac have a mature age Employee Action Group, made up of volunteers from across the organisation who are passionate about progressing the position of 50+ employees. The Employee Action Group creates an avenue for direct feedback to the Westpac Diversity and Flexibility team on 50+ issues and programs.

Westpac also created the ‘Prime of Life’ program which is a suite of training options and support resources for both mature age employees and their managers. This included giving 50+ employees access to workshop sessions which assists employees to plan for their future around key topics such as finance, health and career. Overall, the response to the Prime of Life program has been extremely positive, showing a more engaged mature workforce which is more likely to stay at Westpac for longer.

Westpac recognises that managers play an integral role in engaging and retaining mature age employees and see that it is important that they have support and training available to them. Westpac have designed specialist training to provide managers with skills to support mature employees, plan for the needs of their workforce and ensure the retention of important knowledge held by 50+ employees.

A suite of online resources were developed and included an ‘internet hub’ which provides a one-stop shop for mature age employees to find resources relevant to them.  These included:

  • A Self -assessment tool and
  • A Manager toolkit

2. Mature Age case study

Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort & Spa business case for retaining mature age employees

The Surfers Paradise Marriot resort and Spa (the Marriott) which is part of the EHP group of companies, employs more than 350 employees in its peak season. The organisation is aware of the need to manage and support its older worker’s especially considering that finding and retaining workers on the Gold Coast is an ongoing challenge.

Of the Marriott’s workforce approximately 18 per cent are mature age workers. While the Marriott’s management deemed this as a relatively low risk to the organisation, the risk is greater when considered in the context of critical roles which include Management, Chefs and Logistics. One hundred percent of the older workers hold these critical roles.

The Marriot introduced a re-skilling program for older workers. The program is particularly important for workers who are unable to continue in their current role due to changing work practices and demands or who are considering retirement.

One example of the success of the re-skilling program was the potential retirement of its’ experienced head Teppanyaki Chef and the risk of his retirement to the business.  It was important to the Marriot they did not lose the skills and experience held by the Chef.

A reskilling program was put in place to minimise the risk of losing the Teppanyaki skill in the business.  A mature age worker (previously a security guard) was given the opportunity to be trained as a future Teppanyaki Chef (as well as a number of young trainees).The mature age staff member completed his formal training and is working full time as a Teppanyaki Chef (under the guidance of the Head Chef). In addition to the training program for the trainees, the Head Chef has now been able to reduce his hours so that he can continue working in a more flexible employment arrangement (3 days per week).

The Marriot plans to continue to identify and implement strategies to build their workforce including the development and utilisation of mature age workers.

3. Mature Age case study

Hear from Barossa Village on their introduction of an employee Wellbeing Committee.

Barossa Village is located in Nuriootpa, in the heart of the Barossa Valley in South Australia. It is owned by the community and is operated as a not for profit public benevolent organisation in the retirement living and aged care sectors.

63 per cent of Barossa Village’s employees are aged between 45 to 65 years, with an additional 3 per cent aged over 65 years.  One of the priorities for Barossa Village is staff wellbeing, the health and wellbeing choices made at work are the key to having a healthy and productive workforce so the organisation introduced a Wellbeing Committee.

Since the Committee’s inception Barossa Village has introduced a number of initiatives and programs, such as a yoga program, physiotherapy for staff and customised return to work strategies. The group is also involved in actively training employees on well-being and health.

Taking a proactive approach to managing health and wellbeing of staff has seen positive results. The ability for staff to have a say in the developed of safety programs led to a dramatic decrease in the number of injury claims lodged and also led to an increase in the interest of staff in protecting the health and wellbeing of themselves and others within the workplace.

Because of their mature work force and the physical demands required to undertake their roles, the introduction of the Wellbeing Committee has assisted Barossa Village manage this risk.

Having a Wellbeing Committee helped the organisation to focus on, and plan for, how it deals with an ageing workforce and the likelihood and impact of multiple staff retirements within a relatively short period of time. But perhaps more important is the issue of staff wellbeing, particularly in a highly manual, tasks driven, aged care sector, and how as an organisation, Barossa Village are able to plan and transition people into other roles when they may no longer have the capacity to fulfil the roles for which they were originally employed.

Young, small to medium start-ups the key to jobs growth

One of the main benefits of linking data from different sources is that it gives us the ability to capture information without burdening the community with extra surveys. Beyond that, it’s the deeper insights that the linked data provides.

While Australia has considerable information over time about people and households, business-related information to date has focussed on small to medium enterprises (SMEs). Researchers needed to include large, complex businesses in order to analyse the relationships between productivity, innovation and competition in all kinds of firm sizes and types and aggregate their responses to economy-wide changes.

Sponsored by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (DIIS), the ABS created the Expanded Analytical Business Longitudinal Database (EABLD) – a highly detailed method for linking data about Australian businesses. Using the ABS Business Register (ABSBR) as the integrating ‘spine’, EABLD links firm-level administrative data such as anonymised Business Activity Statements and Business Income Tax Statements from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) with directly collected ABS survey data. It enables researchers to analyse the relationships between business characteristics, innovation, productivity, job creation and entrepreneurship.

“We can use the EABLD to counter uninformed arguments as well as to develop new evidence-based policy,” said Dr Luke Hendrickson, manager of Innovation Research for DIIS.

Dr Hendrickson said the idea for the EABLD came from the desire to compare Australian business dynamics to that of other leading Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. OECD research assessed the role of firms of different sizes and ages in a cross-country, comparative way to understand their contribution to employment growth. The OECD’s work showed that young SMEs and very young firms were consistently doing most of the job creation across a range of countries.

“Generating evidence based policy is what everyone says we should be doing,” Dr Hendrickson said.

“Large firms were in fact shown to be net job destroyers and that was something that was not in the Australian political conversation or landscape. Successive governments have talked about big business being the engine of job creation and I wanted to test that.

“I thought this was an opportunity to turn a few myths on their head. EABLD helped the government and the Department to prosecute the idea that start-ups are really important for generating employment growth in this country and more important than larger, older firms. We provided an evidence base that couldn’t be ignored and were able to put out quite an influential bit of work thanks to the EABLD,” Dr Hendrickson said.

The EABLD was also able to compare the performance of firms supported by government policies and programs to those who did not receive support, which is useful in assessing the efficacy and value of government interventions.

“EABLD can compare and contrast different firm sizes, ages, sectors – and in the near future, different regions as well. So we will be able to ask what makes a booming region? Which firms are growing? What sectors are they in?,” Dr Hendrickson said.

“The more data we add the more powerful this asset becomes.”

Since the dataset and methodology of EABLD is enduring, that means that future, successive governments – and therefore the public – can benefit from an evidence-based tool for policy purposes.

“The best thing about it being enduring is that word will spread, more agencies will be using it and we’ll hopefully get more investment and more bang from investment in this very informative tool,” Dr Hendrickson said.

Find out more about ABS data integration on our FAQ page.


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