The fact that our workforce is aging1 has been viewed with alarm in some quarters—but a realistic assessment accentuates the positive. On the Society for Human Resource Management web site, Dana Wilkie points out that older workers, blue-collar and white-collar, tend to bring to the table experience, professionalism, a strong work ethic, lower turnover, and solid knowledge of the job.2
So to get and hold these valuable workers, these strategies are helpful:
Recruiting and Hiring: Send the Right Message
Examine your recruitment materials to be sure that they don’t send direct or indirect messages that only younger workers are wanted3 and conduct a Post-Offer Test to ensure the employee is physically capable and aware of any challenges.
Retention: Flexibility Is Key…
Along with traditional retention needs like fair compensation and the ability to advance in pay and responsibility, older workers, whether on the shop floor or in the office, want the flexibility to deal with later-in-life issues. They may be caring for aging parents or spouse and helping with grandchildren. They are likely facing some decline in their physical capacities.
Job-sharing, flexible work schedules, and part-time work can accommodate them. Older workers may also appreciate mentoring arrangements that allow them to give up some more physically demanding tasks in exchange for helping younger colleagues learn how to “work smart.”4
…And So Is Safety
And, of course, older workers have special concerns when it comes to safety. Prevention of falls, which can be serious for older workers, is crucial; so is designing jobs, tools, and the work environment to meet the needs of all workers, including senior ones.
For more on the opportunities and challenges of an aging workforce, see our eBook “Injury Prevention and the Older Worker.” Fit For Work offers many services aimed at preventing injury through attention to early soreness, ergonomics, and behavior (best practices). To learn how we can help you accommodate older workers’ needs, contact us here.