IAG is benefitting from diversity in its workforce and is introducing policies to retain and encourage older staff, CEO Mike Wilkins says.
The group is “well aware of the need for a range of options to extend the working lives of older employees” and has “an established range of policies, programs and practices to respond to this demographic challenge”, he told the Australian Human Rights Commission conference in Sydney today.
The policies include using long-service leave in small blocks – including single days – and a shorter working year option, meaning employees can purchase up to six weeks’ extra annual leave.
IAG says it recognises the different skills older and younger people have and it has introduced a mentoring program to share them.
“Simply put, a more experienced worker may appreciate guidance in the world of social media and a younger worker may need up-skilling in the intricacies of underwriting or the like,” Mr Wilkins said.
He says diversity has in the past been thought of as a “sprinkle of women and a dab of colour”.
“But diversity is really about diversity of thought – where different perspectives and capabilities are the point of difference, not visible characteristics, although diversity of gender, ethnicity and age are positive lead indicators of a healthy organisation,” he added.
“You can’t be adaptive and identify emerging risks, trends and opportunities if everyone in the team has had the same life experiences.”
Mr Wilkins says customer feedback found younger caseworkers in compulsory third party motor insurance struggle to empathise with clients’ circumstances.
“How could a single 21-year-old with limited life experience understand the stresses caused to a 50-year-old with a family and a mortgage whose life has been forever changed because of the injuries suffered in a crash?”
“A concerted effort to improve the diversity of the workforce in that part of the business, particularly around older workers, immediately paid dividends, with higher customer satisfaction and the ability to improve mentoring opportunities across the team from older worker to younger.”
Diversity strategies have also been applied to the needs of women at IAG, Mr Wilkins said.
“To support primary carers, who in our experience are mostly women, we now offer 20 weeks’ leave at full pay that includes a welcome-back payment that doubles pay for six weeks upon return to work,” he said.
“This is not only industry-leading but we think it helps us retain our talent and gives people another reason to consider IAG as a prospective employer.”
He says the Government must encourage older staff to stay in the workforce by giving clarity and stability on superannuation rules.
“We would also like to see possible subsidies for older workers who want to take on mentoring roles and tax breaks to make it more appealing for older workers to re-enter the workforce,” he said.