LOVING IT: Making Work Absolutely Human CEO Rhonda Brighton-Hall says over-70s are happy at work because they love what they are doing.
LOVING IT: Making Work Absolutely Human CEO Rhonda Brighton-Hall says over-70s are happy at work because they love what they are doing.

Retirement? Seniors are Australia's happiest workers

NEW research reveals that people aged over 70 are the happiest at work.

The result will surprise many who see this as a well-earned time to put up their feet and relax, or just get off the treadmill and enjoy outside interests. But the report Happy workers: How satisfied are Australians at work?, conducted by Curtin University with Making Work Absolutely Human (mwah) and comprising 17,000 participants, reveals that while pay, job security and hours of work count, the job itself is paramount.

"It's what you do, how you are able to go about your work and who is alongside you that matters the most when it comes to job satisfaction," mwah CEO Rhonda Brighton-Hall told Seniors Newspaper Publications.

Just over 60% of workers in their 70s (a sample size of 99) reported feeling very satisfied with their job overall, compared with only 24% of Gen Y, 28% of Gen X and 33% of Baby Boomers.

Most workers in their 70s were working on a part-time basis - 70% part-time, 30% full-time.

"Workers who continue on beyond the age of 70 are likely doing so not out of necessity but because they love what they are doing," Rhonda said.

Without the stresses of raising a family, she said, many already had more free time and chose to continue working to "be productive and make a difference".

"We see 'work' as ... the opportunity to use our hands, our minds, our strength, our creativity and sometimes even our hearts, to contribute to the community in which we live," she stated in the report.

In some cases, she told Seniors, older participants had totally dismissed the idea of retiring, asking "Why would I retire, when there's so much more to do?"

"In short, they want to make a difference, and see their work as an important part of making that difference," Rhonda said.

The fact that most of the over-70s worked part-time aligns with another of the survey's findings, that satisfaction with hours of work increases up to 25 hours each week before dipping and rising again until it reaches 38 hours, after which it falls markedly.

People who are able to do a little work from home each week tend to report higher levels of job satisfaction than those unable to do so. Baby Boomers (born 1946-64) report being happier working 'for' others in caring and community roles, or in the outdoors, such as agriculture. They prefer to work in small to medium businesses rather than big ones, and the most important factors remain the type of work, who it is done with, and freedom around how it is done.

In her foreward to the report, Rhonda stated: "We will spend a large part of our adult lives working - over 100,000 hours in some cases.

So, if we will spend over 100,000 hours in some cases working, and almost one-third of Australians (29%) reported dissatisfaction with payment and working hours, what can businesses do to make workers happier?

"When people feel valued, and included, they thrive, and give their best," Rhonda said.


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