Australians working longer and lighter

Brisbane-based delivery associate Lynda Blake.

Australians are working longer but lighter, with seven out of ten (71 per cent) Australian workers seeing work as an inevitable part of retirement, a new demographics report and research commissioned by Amazon Australia has revealed.

The majority of Australian workers (87 per cent) are now looking to ease into retirement by gradually transitioning from full-time work to part-time, casual, or flexible work in their later years. Driven by changes in needs, values and aspirations, Australian workers say they’re keen to continue working during retirement however the type of work needs to fit within their lifestyle (73 per cent).

Australians at Work: Over 55s is the first in a series of reports exploring Australia’s changing workforce, released by Amazon Australia in partnership with demographer Bernard Salt. Diving into the ways the older workforce has evolved since the turn of the century, the report highlights a significant shift for Australians as they reimagine their transition to retirement.

What the research discovered is in fact, an entirely new life stage has emerged between adulthood and retirement: The Lifestyle Years. This life stage encompasses the period between the ages of 55 and 69, a time where more Australians are continuing to work, but are now actively curating their employment to fit their evolving preferences.

The Demographics Group’s Bernard Salt likens The Lifestyle Years as a stepping stone into post-career/post-work life, allowing Australians to enjoy a lighter, freer lifestyle in their later-working years.

“It’s official. The stages of the Australian lifecycle are on the move. We are now doing more later in life: leaving home later, getting married later, starting families, and even retiring! What this research partnership with Amazon Australia has discovered is a new period in the lifecycle known as The Lifestyle Years. This is a newly defined life stage that fits between adulthood and retirement. Australians are embracing this transition by choosing to work for more years, but being much more selective about the kind of work they do.”

“The report shows there’s an emerging cohort in search of more flexible options, a role that keeps them active, that aligns with their passions and supports them financially. This could be a fulltime worker who has decided to volunteer, someone moving away from the office to work in a retail or warehouse environment, or semi-retirees wanting flexible work options with hours and days that meet their needs including, for example, the kind of work offered by Amazon Flex. A job that enables a change-of-career job later in life creates new work relationships, helps top up retirement funds and keeps over 55s connected to the wider community,” concludes Bernard.

Former Brisbane Primary School teacher Lynda Blake is now a Delivery Associate at Amazon’s Brisbane-based site after deciding to make a career change to enable her to have more time to enjoy the things she loves.

“I wanted something totally different, something with reduced stress and that would keep me active. I love the flexibility my role offers and that I’m not working every single day. I take on extra work when it suits me, but I make sure I always have the time to do the things I enjoy,” says Lynda.

Sydney-based Amazon Flex Delivery Partner, Neil Hughes, came out of retirement to become a delivery partner after searching for a side hustle that could lift his retirement income and boost his holiday budget.

“I have been an Amazon Flex Delivery Partner for the last three years, and it’s not only given me a new lease of life, but it helps keep the bills at bay and enables me to take holidays.”

“I pick and choose the hours I work and if I need to prioritise the important things in life, I can. The flexibility allows me to make sure I don’t miss out on spending time with my family.” says Neil.

Interestingly, data from the ABS4 highlights a substantial increase in the labour force aged 55-64 over the 20 years to 2023, up from 48 per cent to 70 per cent. For workers aged 65 years and above, the participation rate more than doubled from 6 per cent to 15 per cent over the past two decades. The composition of the workforce is changing as Australians seek out income, social engagement, workplace camaraderie and lifestyle and maybe even ‘meaning’ in life’s late working years.

Jacqui Marker, HR Operations Director for Amazon in Australia says, “As the Australians at Work: Over 55s report highlights, many Australians over 55 are choosing work opportunities that enable them to have greater control of their time, a change of pace and put them closer towards their financial goals.

“At Amazon Australia, we have seen first-hand the benefits our team members from this cohort bring to the workplace, most significantly in the positive impact they’ve had on younger colleagues. Many have extensive experience in a variety of industries, as well as their life experience, which is beneficial for all. Actively welcoming over 55s is a great way to build a workforce with diverse perspectives and experiences that will benefit your team and your business.”

“In the lead up to the festive season, we are offering new seasonal job opportunities to support the fulfilment of customer orders, and I encourage people of all ages to apply to join the team,” concludes Jacqui.

While financial security is the main reason Australians over 55 are working into retirement (47 per cent), they are taking ownership of the type of work they spend their time doing with the majority of retirees (86 per cent) wanting to work in a way that suits their lifestyle.

Given this, it’s not surprising nearly a quarter (24 per cent) of over 55s have had a career change in the last five years, due to their desire to: have less stress (33per cent), have a change of pace (28 per cent), give back and stay connected to the community (26 per cent), stay active (18 per cent).

Developed by Amazon Australia and Bernard Salt, with additional independent research conducted by Lonergan Research, the Australians at Work: Over 55s research report is the first in a series of reports looking at the way the Australian workforce is changing.

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