The Workplace Survey

The Workplace Survey is being sent to senior human resources and occupational health and safety personnel, asking for their views about and current policies to support older workers, and the capacity and willingness of their organisation to adapt jobs to fit health and health care needs. It is being administered by ANU, in partnership with Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ).

What is the aim of the Workplace Survey?

The Workplace Survey aims to assess the key aspects of work design known to be important for protecting older workers from injury and promoting their health in the workplace.

Are my answers confidential?

Yes. As all responses to this survey are anonymous, none of the information provided by respondents can be traced back to participants. Responses will be combined with those of other participants to compile aggregate information and to produce a summary report. With respect to the ANU, data management procedures will be in compliance with the Commonwealth Privacy Act 1988 and the ANU Policy for Responsible Practice of Research. Survey responses are also protected by the Queensland Government’s Statistical Returns Act, which means that penalties apply for anyone who releases responses in a way that would identify participants.

Where can I find out more information about this survey?

For more information about this survey, please email:

You may also contact Dr Christine Heyes LaBond, email or phone 02 6125 5616 at the ANU Research School of Population Health.

If you have any questions about privacy or ethics please contact The Ethics Officer for Human Research at the Office of Research Integrity, phone 02 6125 3427 or email

Does this study have ethics approval?

This study has been approved by the ANU Human Research Ethics Committee. If you have any concerns or complaints about how this research has been conducted, please contact:

Ethics Manager. The ANU Human Research Ethics Committee
The Australian National University
Telephone: +61 2 6125 3427

Research outcomes

The survey shows that there is little evidence of age discrimination, based on respondents’ views about the advantages and disadvantages of employing older workers, especially in relation to younger workers. Businesses are aware of older workers’ health needs. They see the differences in health needs, accept the aging workforce and rising proportion of older workers in their workforce, and accept that workability is different in terms of HS changes. However, the businesses do not have systematic strategies, measures, polices and achievable plans to handle this. It is not clear how businesses can attract, employ, and retain older workers, and how they deal with the HS needs for older workers. There is a gap between businesses’ awareness/perception about older workers and significant actions. This gap requires government policy makers’ actions. More specifically:

  • Almost half the respondents identified that they consider someone aged 60 years to be an older worker, increasing to 60% of respondents considering that someone aged 65 is an older worker.
  • Most respondents indicated that they believed workers are too old for full time work by age 65.
  • Negative stereotypes of older workers include a perception that they have more health concerns, are more resistant to change, are more prone to injuries and are forgetful. Most respondents disagreed or were neutral on these negative stereotypes, suggesting negative views of older workers may be shifting.
  • Positive stereotypes of older workers include being less likely to leave the organisation, being reliable, better at problem solving and better at dealing with customers. Most respondents were inclined to agree with many stereotyped positive characteristics of older workers, suggesting organisations are aware of the benefits of hiring and retaining older workers.
  • Organisations are not experiencing increased risks, incidents or injuries with older workers. Whilst this may appear positive, it may also mean that strategies to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of older workers are not being implemented.
  • Of concern, the results suggest that a large proportion of organisations don’t have comprehensive strategies in place to manage work health and safety for their overall workforce, let alone specific strategies for older workers.
  • Some organisations are anticipating the need to make changes if the age profile of their workforce shifts to include more older workers; though very few reported they have a clear and achievable plan for doing so, which raises questions about the level of commitment that exists.
  • Organisations appear concerned about labour shortages, though this does not appear to have stimulated a desire to better attract and retain older workers.
  • More than half the respondents reported their organisation is not even considering strategies to attract and retain older workers, and do not have any policies in place regarding older workers.

A detailed report can be found at