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The Ageing Workforce in Air New Zealand Limited

Introduction

The modern world passes through a period of radical change visible in all spheres. The advances in technologies created the basis for the improvement in the quality of life and increased attention to the well-being of individuals. Moreover, medicine supported by new scientific discoveries promoted a significant extension of the lifespan with the preservation of high activity levels. That is why society and people change radically, also meaning a fundamental alteration in the workforce, its structure, and capabilities. Under these conditions, the organizations face a serious challenge of managing this shift and introducing policies and strategies sufficient to deal with aging populations, and guaranteeing the preservation of capabilities vital for their following growth and generation of benefits. Air New Zealand Limited as the flag carrier of New Zealand should also be involved in the process and offer its policies to resolve the problem.

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Background

Today, the idea of a 100-year life with the preservation of working ability becomes relevant. Statistical data shows that life expectancy grows by around three years every decade, meaning that the question of the aging population becomes more topical (Krapivin, 2018). People acquire more time that can be devoted to various activities and work. However, along with some obvious benefits of the extended life span, there are also some problematic issues associated with it that are mainly linked to the sphere of business. The inability to correctly manage this trend will precondition the emergence of the deficit in the workforce and its reduced effectiveness. At the same time, the focus on inclusion and training might create the basis for new achievements (Krapivin, 2018). For this reason, the topicality of the problem cannot be denied.

The Three-Stage Model

The question can also be analyzed through the prism of the three-stage model of study, work, and retirement. Most individuals’ lives were conformed to this paradigm presupposing that they should acquire education in the first part of their life, find a job and make a career to earn the money needed to guarantee a high quality of life during the last stage, of retirement (Krapivin, 2018). Companies also accepted this model aligning their human resources policies to find educated young people and support them during their career-building activities, and provide sufficient retirement plans. However, the prolongation of the lifespan introduced critical changes to the model and made it irrelevant to the aging population and their growing needs for acquiring new skills and engaging in new activities.

The Situation in New Zealand

For New Zealand, the situation with the increase in the lifespan and the aging of the workforce is also topical. The reports show that the number of young people in the labor market gradually declines. This situation is complicated by the fact that the generation of baby boomers becomes retired, meaning that businesses might suffer from a deficit of educated and skilled specialists (Parker, 2017). Under these conditions, extensive inclusion of people aged 55+ in different processes and their reeducation becomes the potent solution to the problem. The research shows that the increase in the workplace participation of people belonging to the cohort mentioned above (55) can increase the GDP by $33 billion (“Keeping on working on NZ’s aging workforce,” n.d.). For this reason, much attention should be given to the concept of 100 years with the challenges it introduces.

Air New Zealand Limited

Air New Zealand Limited is the flag carrier of the state, meaning that its effective functioning is vital for the country and supports its international ties. The company operates passenger flights to 20 domestic and 32 international places in 20 countries (Air New Zealand, 2019a). It means that the company has a significant demand for skilled specialists operating in various fields and performing different activities to support the stable work of the firm. At the moment, Air New Zealand has about 12,500 employees globally who are trained to demonstrate high-performance levels and satisfy the basic needs of clients, and guarantee the safety of flights (Air New Zealand, 2019a). The number also proves the critical topicality of the prolonged lifespan and change in the three-stage model for the corporation.

The workforce profile data of the company offers data probing the previous statement (see Appendix 1). The average age of employees is 42.7 (Air New Zealand, 2019b). At the same time, people aged 31-40 and 41-50 comprise 26.3% and 22.2% of the whole workforce correspondingly (Air New Zealand, 2019b). Young specialists or workers aged 21-30 constitute only 26.7% of staff, while groups 51-60, 61-64, and 65 and overrate for 16%, 3,3%, and 2.3% correspondingly (Air New Zealand, 2019b).

It means that young people that could continue their career building and evolve comprise only about a fourth part of the whole workforce, while there is also a low engagement of the elderly. The company faces a risk of deficit in the future, as the biggest categories are 41+, meaning that they will soon be retired and new workers should be hired. Thus, the labor market might not have the appropriate alternatives.

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In such a way, Air New Zealand might also suffer from the changes in the workforce and extended lifespan. The company’s profile shows that at the moment, little attention is devoted to working with people 55+ as they comprise an insignificant part of employees. With no attention to the given trend, the company will experience a shortage and a decrease in income because of the inability to provide appropriate and high-quality services to clients. Under these conditions, the company should be ready to engage in the change process vital for its future and preservation of the ability to perform scheduled flights to various areas. The adherence to the previous three-stage model of study, work, and retirement can be risky for future success and competitiveness.

Recommended Changes

In such a way, considering the scope of the discussed problem and the need for the creation of the background for the further rise of the company, the central recommendations include the establishment of policies to consider the trend of expanded lifespan and create conditions for engaging aging workers into the functioning of the company. At the same time, it is vital to introduce practices encouraging the young specialists to start their cooperation with the company and cultivate their desire to evolve and contribute to the brand’s rise for an extended period of their lives, or till retirement. To achieve the given goal, several strategies can be offered.

Management of Mature Workers

First, the policies for managing mature workers and their specific needs should be established. Because the baby boomer generation will soon retire, the situation with the lack of workers for available jobs can become realistic (Krapivin, 2018). For this reason, Air New Zealand should create policies to manage the aging workforce as a way to avoid shortages. It might presuppose the provision of additional training, education, health services, and works that will meet the new demands of this cohort and create the basis for their improved contribution to the future growth of the company (Krapivin, 2018). Employees representing the group also acknowledge the importance of such strategies for them (Beck, 2014). For this reason, it will also help to motivate individuals aged 55+ and boost performance.

Flexibility

Another necessary change is the introduction of high flexibility levels for working and careers. The long lifespan and the inclusion of the elderly means the existence of high demands for autonomy, diversity, and responsibility (Canazza, 2016). Under these conditions, specialists should be provided with multiple options for continuing their careers at different stages, both at first and final ones, of their professional development (Canazza, 2016). It will help to motivate the workforce and take into account the needs of the growing population who can have the desire to switch to different activities which are more suitable for their age and new demands. Additionally, they should be offered existing options important for the company at the moment.

Education and Training

Education and training policies are other recommended changes that should be introduced by Air New Zealand. The involvement of people aged 55+ means their re-education to ensure that they can use new practices and technologies available at the moment (Canazza, 2016). At the same time, representatives of this group also value the change to master new skills as it helps them to remain demanded and continue working (Krapivin, 2018). For young applications, the focus on strategies how to adapt to the demands of the company, resilience, and plasticity should be made to ensure their readiness to engage in new activities and grow together with the firm, which is a vital factor for the future success.

Multi-Generational Workforce

The focus on the involvement of the aged population means the need to cultivate the multi-generational workforce. Statistics show that there is a particular gap between populations preventing them from building work relations and cooperating effectively (Canazza, 2016). With the aging of the workforce, the gap can become bigger, and Air New Zealand should establish policies to create a multi-generational environment characterized by experience sharing and learning through interaction between different age groups (Canazza, 2016). Young specialists should cooperate with more experienced ones to have access to expertise and effective practices. It will contribute to their better education and motivate them to build a career in a company by following the example of senior workers.

Multiple Options

The growing lifespan of populations also means that they should be provided with additional options for their personal and professional development. The existing research offers the idea that the existence of a wide array of opportunities motivates mature workers to continue their growth and become more engaged in the work of companies, preventing the decrease in their effectiveness and contribution to the development of the company (Beck, 2014). In such a way, Air New Zealand should create new options for both mature and young workers for them to remain interested in building their careers and working, which is a key to future successes and a generation of competitive advantage.

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Involvement

Finally, the company should introduce new practices to involve mature workers in its projects and guarantee an engagement in processes and activities vital for its further evolution. It can be achieved by considering the current needs of employees, their skills, and preferences to design and establish frameworks for cooperation (MacDermott, 2014). The observation of this strategy will help to generate additional income and, at the same time, avoid a deficit in skilled and experienced specialists needed to organize flights, manage them, and minimize the risk of accidents in the future (Canazza, 2016). Involvement is a key component of successful management of the aging of the population and the creation of the basis for new achievements.

Overall Recommendations

Altogether, as comes from the information provided above, the main goal of all offered changes is to fill in the gap in policies aimed at managing the aging of the population and guarantee the transition of knowledge between generations, which becomes especially important in terms of the baby boomers’ future retirement. It is recommended to cultivate an environment characterized by multiple options available both for young and mature specialists as it is the only way to remain competitive in the future (Canazza, 2016). It can also be recommended to introduce additional recreational and rest activities to support the health of workers and manage various problems that might be peculiar to people from the age group 55+.

Excepted Outcomes

It is expected that the implementation of these changes will contribute to the creation of a new working environment in the company. It will be characterized by the improved cooperation between various generations and their experience sharing. Additionally, Air New Zealand will be prepared for meeting the new challenges associated with the destruction of the three-stage model because of the prolonged lifespan of individuals. It means that no deficit in specialists will affect the company in the future, and it will remain capable of providing its services to passengers.

Conclusion

Altogether, the problem of workforce aging is topical for all companies, including Air New Zealand. The study, work, retire model losses its relevance because of the extended life span and the need to include mature specialists in various activities to avoid problems with specialists in the future. The recommendations presuppose the establishment of policies to deal with the issue, such as a focus on the management of mature workers, higher flexibility, education and training, creation of a multi-generational workforce, and better involvement of all specialists in the work of the company.

References

Air New Zealand. (2019a). Media release. Web.

Air New Zealand. (2019b). Supplementary workforce profile data. Web.

Beck, V. (2014). Employers’ views of learning and training for an ageing workforce. Management Learning, 45(2), 200–215. Web.

Canazza, C. (2016). Improving working conditions for ageing workers in the European Union: New approaches. European Labour Law Journal, 7(2), 261–293. Web.

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Keeping on working on: NZ’s ageing workforce. (2018). Lifetime. Web.

Krapivin, P. (2018). The study, work, retire model is broken as we live until 100. The Forbes. Web.

MacDermott, T. (2014). Older workers and extended workforce participation: Moving beyond the ‘barriers to work’ approach. International Journal of Discrimination and the Law, 14(2), 83–98. Web.

Parker, T. (2017). As workers get older, is business ready for the grey tide? NZ Herald. Web.

Appendix

Employee/worker % by age group.
Table 1. Employee/worker % by age group (Air New Zealand, 2019b).

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