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Amy Duncan on getting the most from our ageing workforce, why we won't lose our jobs to robots anytime soon, the workplace collaboration vs competition debate and more

Amy Duncan on getting the most from our ageing workforce, why we won't lose our jobs to robots anytime soon, the workplace collaboration vs competition debate and more

This week's Top 10 is by Amy Duncan, an advisor in Grant Thornton New Zealand’s People and Culture team.

As always, we welcome your additions in the comment stream below or via email to

If you're interested in contributing the occasional Top 10 yourself, contact

See all previous Top 10s here.

1. Could innovation solve the ageing population problem?

New Zealand like many other countries is experiencing the aging population phenomenon and our Government has yet to address the productivity dilemma our aging population may present. The University of Luxembourg's Andreas Irmen and Anastasia Litina offer some insight into the role innovation could play in boosting the productivity of the labour force.

2. From silver to gold – the benefits of mature workers

Naturally, the big issue facing our economy is the mass exodus of baby boomers from their businesses which will occur in the years ahead. This will become critical given the volume of companies they collectively own, but there’s also a silent epidemic of discrimination in workforces across the world: ageism. Many businesses are raising awareness of possible age-discrimination and promoting the value of ‘mature-age workers’.

3. Oh Canada!

Of course ageism is prohibited by New Zealand employment law, but it’s surprising to see how late Canadian states are to the party.

4. The dark side of transparency

The London Business School's Julian Birkinshaw and Dan Cable suggest possible scenarios in which transparency can back fire. The article provides an interesting case study about transparency in employee efforts and rewards.

5. Collaboration or competition?

Today you would be hard pushed to find an organisation that doesn’t promote collaboration to achieve team objectives and the business’s goals – but is the tide about turn again? HRD journalist, Lauren Acurantes, looks at why businesses should also consider an element of competition to drive success.

6. Fear not – the robots are coming in peace and they won’t be here for a while yet…

If you’re worried about if or when a robot is going to roll into work to replace you – relax. Research conducted by McKinsey reveals that automation can only reach its full potential with people and technology working together, and that the automation revolution isn’t going to happen overnight.

7. Recruitment costs disputed

Last week’s EMA Employer Bulletin reveals a court case about a breach of the Wages Protection Act 1983; payroll processing teams should take note!

8. Putting your best foot forward?

You may be familiar with the outcry that occurred in the UK in recent months about a receptionist being sent home after not following the firm’s requirement for her to wear ‘2in – 4in’ heels. Last week, News Hub looked at whether such strict and specific dress codes could be enforced here in New Zealand.

9. Managers beware: don’t let your cognitive bias get in the way of decision making

A fascinating insight into how our own experiences impact our decision making; and how bringing cognitive biases to the forefront of consciousness can improve management skills.

10. Don’t forget to celebrate International Women’s Day!

The level of women in senior roles globally has risen just 3% in the last five years, according to Grant Thornton's last annual Women in Business Report. Research also reveals the percentage of senior management positions held by women in New Zealand is steadily declining. How have things changed in the last year? Grant Thornton will release its 2017 report on March 8 – International Women’s Day.

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6. That link told us absolutely nothing. It did not address how automation, although while always needing people alongside, will never need anywhere near as many as were replaced. Our using technology and robotics is as inevitable as night follows day, but ignoring what it does to people it leaves behind, leaves you wide open for someone like Trump to step into the gap. Automation and technology will eventually lead us to have a complete rethink on how we run economies, it will be far reaching and what it will deliver down the track to people I already know, my grandchildren, something completely unrecognisable to us today.


I think it would be very surprising if people could figure out how to work together with machines effectively. Nielsen did some research and made the remark that the majority of people can't even perform complex tasks of 3 or more sub-tasks without trouble. Many are unwilling to work with machines or are even incapable of doing so. If anything, we're going to accept downgrades in UX and rationality to justify the use of machines. Mark my words, if we continue to expect 110% out of machines, we're going to have to instead settle for


6. The report shows a very limited understanding of the impact of automation. It may take 10-15 years for things to become more clear cut as to the impact, but it will be more extensive than is anticipated in the report.

Automation in the finance sector is constantly moving forward. Transport and logistics has constant reporting in various articles. There are challenges in reaching complete automation with vehicles but it will eventually happen.

There is a substantial proportion of the older working population that will adapt, but a lot of people are not that well educated and not training in areas of design or creativity that will be needed. For future working environments we are going to need to change attitudes towards work and lifestyle.


It's not just the oldies that can't/wont adapt.

I don't see many companies investing in their younger staff's training and development.

It is also a lot harder for people in their 20s and 30s to retrain, given the time and costs. As it tends to be at a point where they are often trying to settle down, buy a house, and start a family.


Fewer people are trying to settle down in their 20s or early 30s. Most are not in a position to do so. Between education and getting a job sonewhere that takes years. Then most have no idea if they will stay or move on so even if they start saving for a house they probably won't buy one. Most will struggle to get a deposit together in a decade.

Those that I know in their 30s with a mortgage and kid money is very tight. Mortgage payments, student loan payments and costs of bringing up kids leaves no money whatsoever. There isn't much to base a consumer society on after all that.


Automation is here and has been for a long time. Ever noticed your automatic washing machine and thought about the multiple human tasks it replaced. There are heaps of here and now examples. I think we have adapted already and will continue.


Just another bean counter speaking
Surprised Grant Thornton hasn't outsourced to India yet ?
Perhaps I could organise a trip to a Coca Cola bottling plant & the Ford Motor Co factory so the writer can experience first hand today's robots & manufacturing processes.
At Coke they only require a maintenance man to change the ink cartridge in the bottle labeler & a couple of guys on forklifts to load the trucks, soon to be replaced by automation
Personally I can't wait for machines to crunch the facts rather than lawyers & judges who take 5 weeks for a simple fraud trial and charge minimum of $300 to $400 per hour and far more, each wasting time.
Thousands of medical operations are conducted every year by robots now.
So to say human jobs are safe from robots ? really ? Id rather invest in the machine & people do already


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