Employer Tactics for Responding to an Aging Workforce

Protecting an Aging Workforce    

Many changes take place in our bodies and minds as we age. This requires employers to take steps to adapt the workplace and jobs before an injury occurs. The key to keeping an aging workplace safe is having a manager, administrator, safety or health professional who understands the value of an aging workforce as well as the risks facing older employees. Management should also be asking some key questions like: How is an aging workforce affecting employee productivity? And what are some strategies that employers are implementing to accommodate the aging workforce?

Advantages of an Aging Workforce    

  • Greater emotional stability
  • More knowledgeable and experienced
  • Maturity and professionalism
  • Less performance variability
  • More reliable and loyal
  • Lower turnover rate

What are the Challenges for Aging Workers?

  • Reduced grip strength
  • Reduced visual capacity
  • Slowing of one’s mental processing
  • More vulnerable to hot and cold

These challenges can have a significant effect on the productivity of a business. Younger workers tend to stay current on technological advances that will help them in their career. Older workers may not be as computer-savvy as their younger counterparts. They may need additional training to learn new systems, etc. There are also health concerns that will creep up in older workers. This may include additional insurance claims, special accommodations, more breaks, lighting changes and accessibility considerations. However, when an older worker retires, the business loses the wealth of knowledge that the worker has attained. This requires the business to train a new or inexperienced replacement.

Tactics for Managing an Aging Workforce

  • Provide benefits to join local health clubs
  • Create benefits programs that are tailored to older workers
  • Make older workers feel like they matter
  • Provide additional training so older workers can keep on top of changing technology
  • Have older workers work beside younger workers

Retaining an aging workforce has significant advantages for a business. Older workers have a depth of knowledge and experience that can only help a business prosper. The trick is to keep older workers productive and get the most value out of them before they retire.

How are Current Companies Dealing with Their Aging Workers?

Take BMW for example. When the luxury German automobile company realized that many of its senior workers were becoming too old to physically cope with the demands of their jobs, it introduced simple modifications. Work modifications like brighter lighting, larger screens with big text for reading, and seats so workers did not have to stand all day. The company invested $50,000 into the project and the results were astounding. Productivity rose by seven percent and absenteeism fell below the plant average. Additionally, the error margin of that assembly line dropped to zero.
To learn more about how Society Insurance can help you plan for business challenges and mitigate risk, consult with a Society agent in your area. Additionally, we offer a library of risk management and planning resources on our website.

Author

Jay graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with a B.S.E. degree in Occupational Safety in 1985. He began his career working in the risk control departments of various insurance companies. He joined the Society Risk Control Department in 1999.

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