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Connexus : Issue 43
"When you speak to young people about their work they are often very appreciative of the experience and knowledge of their older colleagues and show an enormous amount of respect toward them. However, when you talk to older workers they often make broad negative generalisations about their young colleagues, saying: they are too ambitious, they don't know what they don't know or they have a lot to learn. Organisations need to be mindful that discrimination on the grounds of age can work both ways." Cutcher says a fexible approach to performance management can help build employee satisfaction in all age groups. "There is an age -- between 30 and 45 -- where people are often seen as the real talent in an organisation. Managers need to be aware that younger people in the team may feel less valued and older people, especially women who have had career interruptions, may be overlooked for leadership roles just at the time they are ready for them." A different approach to older workers who are still on the middle rungs of the career ladder can also be useful. “Some people in their ffties and sixties may have reached a point where they don't want to move up. They want to stay in the role they have and keep doing it really well. How can you assess these people effectively through a perfor mance review system that is geared to measure continuous improvement and keeps asking people how ready and willing they are to move up through the organisation?" Far better, says Cutcher, to build in some key performance indicators that can recognise the role of older workers in knowledge sharing and mentoring younger staff. Engaging older workers is not only important for organisations -- it is vital for the economy. The Australian Government's Intergenerational Report published in 2010 warned that the ageing of the population and the departure of baby boomers from paid work will contribute to a slowing of economic growth and create substantial fscal pressures. Flexibility important Donna Brown, senior lawyer at the Customer Owned Banking Association, advises mutuals on HR issues. She believes all managers should be alert to the needs of workers of different ages. "Customer-owned banking institutions generally can't offer competitive salaries but they can offer We need people to trust us more than they trust the other guy and that's all about rapport. John Tancevski, CEO, Community First Credit Union www.customerownedbanking.asn.au 45