Why Aussies are choosing to work longer

WHETHER motivated by a fulfilling career or a fulfilling pay packet, Australians are working for longer.

Latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows 29 per cent of male retirees and 15 per cent of female retirees had been at age 65, or older, when they had left the workforce.

A Finder survey reveals 40 per cent now believe they will be aged 70 or older before they can stop work.

About 15 per cent believe they will be in their 80s - or even 90s.

Finder money expert Bessie Hassan says part of the reason for the trend is that people are living and staying healthy for longer.

"With the average life expectancy in Australia sitting at 83, it's not surprising to see older Aussies keep working past 65," she says.

"Some might drop to part time because they enjoy their work and see it as a way to keep their minds active while others keep working because they need the income."

Workers in their 50s are likely nowhere near retirement. Picture: iStock
Workers in their 50s are likely nowhere near retirement. Picture: iStock

SEEK resident psychologist Sabina Read says older workers bring many benefits to organisations, such as difference perspectives, more balance and the ability to mentor others.

"They also often also have much more flexibility because they are not beholden to dependence from ageing parents or young children, and flexibility, from an employers perspective, is gold," she says.

"Older workers have a level of wisdom and maturity that simply comes from the number of years they have been on the planet."

Read gives psychology and counselling as examples of roles that benefit from life experience but says older workers have a unique selling point across all industries.

"We have to shine the light on the benefits and what we can gain with age rather than what is different, for both older and younger workers," she says.

"I love working with different aged people.

"Young people bring a breath of fresh air and older people know things I don't know.

"We have to be open to each other rather than pigeonholing based on age."

Sabina Read says older workers bring balance to a workplace. Picture: Supplied
Sabina Read says older workers bring balance to a workplace. Picture: Supplied

COTA (Council on the Ageing) SA chief executive Jane Mussared says ageist attitudes get in the way of older Australians securing and keeping jobs.

"We must do something about the ageism that prejudges older workers and allows myths and untruths to influence hire and fire decisions," she says.

"We know that many people want and often need to work into their 50s, 60s and beyond, whether that's due to financial pressures such as cost of living or a desire to use their skills and experience to keep active, connected and contributing."

Knee surgeon and Sportsmed founder Dr Greg Keene, 73, says he both teaches and learns from his younger colleagues.

"Times change and we all bring different levels of knowledge and innovation to the industry, so it's important we work together no matter our age to draw on each other's experience to provide the best patient care and outcomes possible," he says.

"It's imperative that older workers nurture the up and comers to ensure that our industries continue to thrive when we retire.

"I think as long as you keep your mind sharp, you love what you do and you have the ability to be able to keep going, there's no reason to slow down."

Dr Greg Keene is continuing to work into his 70s. Picture: Supplied
Dr Greg Keene is continuing to work into his 70s. Picture: Supplied

Hassan says young Australians planning to work into their 70s need to think long term and consider how their industry might change and the skills they might need down the track.

On the flip side, those who hope to retire by 65 will need to think about their retirement savings as early as possible.

"If you've changed jobs a couple of times and signed up to the employer's default super fund, you will likely have a few super accounts in your name," she says.

"Consolidating these accounts will help maximise your retirement savings.

"Another way to end up with a healthier nest egg is to make extra super contributions.

"You can either make pre-tax contributions (salary sacrifice), or after-tax contributions by directly depositing money into your account."



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