Investing in an Aging Workforce: Unlocking the Value of Older Workers
Having a roster of experienced professionals can add a valuable presence to just about any type of organization. Discover the irreplaceable value of an aging workforce and pick up a few tips to help protect and motivate some of those long-time employees on your team.
August 28, 2023
Whether we like to admit it, we are living through the aging workforce era. Organizations are not getting younger. People are living longer and want to continue working for various reasons. As a result, expect a longer journey to retirement, along with a prolonged career in the workforce.
Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, the aging workforce helps create value for the entire organization. Some of the many benefits may include:
- Low absenteeism and turnover
- A wealth of experience and knowledge related to the job and organization
- Strong work ethic and significant pride in quality work
- Less risky or more conservative judgment related to safety and careful safety awareness
- Lower probability of making mistakes than younger, less experienced co-workers
- Unwavering loyalty to the organization
- Higher commitment to quality and productivity standards
“When it comes to operational excellence, the most experienced employees often make great mentors and coaches for less experienced employees,” said Steve Simon, Senior Risk Control Manager at Safety National. “Having a tenured staff is important, but the key is to keep your team inspired, safe, healthy, motivated, and, most importantly, adaptable to change.”
Key Motivators for Seasoned Employees
For the most part, the aging workforce represents what standout employees are all about. With the general makeup for a job well done, this group is commonly comprised of loyalty, passion, and diligence. In order to maintain a commitment to excellence, it is pertinent to keep the aging workforce motivated.
A clear sign that someone is happy with their job is when they are continuously performing at a peak level. Here are five motivational tips that can help maximize their potential on the job:
- Conducive working environments with quiet, productive, and distraction-free conditions
- Frequent break periods to help prevent fatigue and burnout
- Ongoing training programs and job development opportunities
- Clear guidelines for proper footwear
- Ergonomic workstations
A Flexible Working Structure Matters
In regard to retaining employees, organizations should try to find ways to adapt and create flexibility for employees. So, no matter who’s on your roster, accommodating flexible work is a great way to stay ahead of the curve. Aging workers tolerate shiftwork less than their younger colleagues. Many times, older workers are at their sharpest in the morning. Organizations often see the best work out of their older workers by offering flexible working schedules with the option for earlier start times. A preferred option for many older workers, flexible scheduling is highly valued and ultimately aids in employer retention efforts.
A model that aligns with older workers can help build on the foundation of organizational goals and objectives. The main goal is to fit the job to the worker and minimize injury exposure for employees, and the most important elements to consider include:
- The utilization of modified tools (power and pinch grip)
- Workplace ergonomics (chairs, desk stations, furniture)
- Safe, durable, and professional floor installations
- Signage with large, clearly legible fonts
- Adequate lighting to prevent shadows, reflections, and glare
Another opportunity to consider in industrial environments is job rotation or job enlargement. Essentially, job enlargement is all about emphasizing tasks and responsibilities, while job rotation focuses on employee rotation based on productivity demands. Both elements bring value to an organization, but the key is the administration knowing how to utilize these ergonomic controls.
Other miscellaneous factors to consider building into a flexible working strategy include:
- Flexible schedules (with the option for hybrid work)
- Ample training designations when needed
- Part-time employment opportunities
Prioritize Employee Wellness
Employees are the most important part of an operation. The most successful employers go above and beyond to protect the health and wellness of their staff.
Establishing a wellness program is one of the best ways to give back to your employees. A structured wellness program helps simplify the possibilities of a healthier lifestyle.
By showing a genuine interest in employee welfare, you invest in your workers, both on a personal and professional level. When a company supports its staff with the right data and resources, they become equipped for a healthier livelihood–a correlation contribution to significant improvements, including:
- Better employee morale and higher job satisfaction
- Prevention of chronic disease and injury risk
- Optimized performance and productivity
- More flexibility and dedication to fitness
- Managed stress and healthy weight loss
To effectively vet your staff, proper wellness screenings are a must. The best approach includes a proactive strategy that incorporates two very important assessments:
1. Functional Capacity Evaluations (FCE): A functional capacity evaluation is a medically driven, comprehensive assessment of an employee’s physical and functional abilities related to the scope of their work. FCEs include a thorough intake and medical history review, a full-body musculoskeletal evaluation, dynamic lifting, and job-specific or positional tolerance testing. Testing can be expanded to fully assess an employee’s functional abilities to return to work in a specific job.
2. Physical demands analysis: A detailed, objective description of the physical demands required to complete the essential and non-essential tasks of a job. Often performed by risk managers, safety professionals, or ergonomic specialists, a PDA helps benefit occupational medical clinics (assisting with RTW efforts), human resources (physical requirements for job descriptions), and supervisors/managers (training requirements)
Finally, focus on overall job fulfillment. Healthy employees are generally happier on the job, and employees are happiest when they feel most engaged at work. Engaged employees are often the most motivated, and when your staff is motivated, productivity rises. To keep productivity soaring, always welcome room for feedback and keep job requirements documented and up to date.
The Cornerstone of an Organization
Employers who embrace the elders in an aging workforce will maintain a competitive edge for their organization. Being vigilant with your aging workforce strategy can make all the difference when reaching for reputable success.
For more expertise, guidance or resources on this topic, please contact [email protected].