And in many cases, they just enjoy the
work. A 2015 Transamerica survey of
workers and retirees found that 44 percent said they waited to retire because
they liked their careers.
Assets at the table
Older workers bring plenty to the conference table in addition to knowledge and
experience. According to a 2016 AARP
report, half of the workers aged 45 to 64
have been at their current job for more
than a decade. They can mentor new
workers, serve as team players and team
leaders and, with so much time on the
job, often take the long-term view.
They handle tough jobs. More than 40
percent of workers aged 58 and up have
physically demanding jobs or difficult
working conditions, according to a 2016
report from the Center for Economic and
Despite stereotypes that they are slow
to learn new things, they excel — even
in fast-paced technology fields. A 2013
study from North Carolina State University found that older computer programmers know as much or even more than
younger colleagues about recent software
While they bring plenty of advantages, aging workers also come with their own set
of issues thanks in part to normal aging.
Employers must be aware of these challenges as they work with older employees.
Seniors can take longer to recover
from illnesses or injuries that might not
set back their younger colleagues for as
long. The process of aging, for instance,
interferes with the healing that’s required
after surgery or when a bone is broken.
Diabetes and the loss of elasticity in the
skin can delay wound healing. The U.S.
National Library of Medicine says it can
take up to four times as long for aging
skin to repair itself.
Pre-existing health conditions, side effects from medication and normal deterioration from aging also may make daily
tasks more difficult for older workers.
Joint range of motion declines with age.
Worsening vision and hearing can affect
everything from balance to driving. According to the National Highway Traf-
10 TIPS TO MANAGE THE AGING WORKFORCE
As older workers reshApe our workplAces, employers cAn
mAke chAnges to better serve All workers And mAnAge costs.
➢ launch wellness programs and encourage participation. the programs,
popular with aging workers, should address the specific needs of an
aging workforce and promote healthy living. when done right, the
programs increase employees’ overall wellness awareness and value.
they also can help seniors, who may be facing financial challenges.
what’s more, they reduce medical costs. harvard university researchers
found that effective wellness programs can cut medical costs and
absenteeism. For every $1 spent on wellness programs, for instance,
medical costs decrease by about $3.27.
➢ offer ongoing workplace physicals. they help keep all parties aware
of changes and improvements in a worker’s overall health status.
by being more aware of potential physical limitations, the employer
may be able to alter job duties to accommodate temporary or more
➢ make workplace improvements. these include physical updates such as
better lighting, slip resistant surfaces and handrails, along with flexible
breaks, time constraints and rest periods, which can improve daily
➢ Be prepared for more Family and medical leave act requests. because
older workers may need more time to rehabilitate from an injury or
illness, they may require additional time off from work.
➢ project costs based on an older worker’s ability to recover. this should
include the time it could take to both heal and any additional therapy.
employers should come up with a decision tree that covers different
stages of an injury.
➢ create a committee to discuss all older workers’ claims early on.
the group should address light duty, modified duty, immediate referrals
to the appropriate medical doctor and more than the usual periodic
➢ Evaluate potentially protracted losses. the scenarios will depend on
the specific workforce and related job demands, but they should be
done through early evaluations by nurses at a local clinic or through
➢ Be aware of older workers’ fundamental differences. effective
management takes into account their learning curves, cultural
considerations, family commitments, communication preferences,
problem-solving abilities and motivations.
➢ create a work culture that embraces, appreciates and draws knowledge
from all generations. tap into the experiences of the older worker —
an asset that’s valuable to not only the company, but less experienced
coworkers. (Just ask robert de niro’s character in “the Intern.”)
➢ allow older workers who are recovering or rehabilitating with an
injury to take a leadership or mentoring role. this takes advantage of
their knowledge base, but also cuts down on loss time and workers'