How Should Employers Cater for Older Workers

The U.S. jobs had released a report in July 2017, that revealed around 19% of people aged 65+ were working at least working part-time during the second quarter of 2017. This recording of employment to population ratio is the highest it’s been in 55 years. On top of that, the Labor Department’s good employment report has recently records that the number of individuals aged over 85 who are still working is also increasing.

If you’re an employer in the US, then there is a very good chance that there’ll be at least one elderly citizen within your workplace. With this in mind, everything should be done to provide older employees with support so that they are able to continue working in the most effective manner.

Senior worker at office

Acorn Stairlifts, an award-winning stair lift supplier, has provided the following advice about how workplaces can be modified so that the spaces suit elderly staff members. They have also advised on some techniques’ employers can adopt to better support senior citizens at their firm…

1. Show your older employees how much you value them

Issues can quickly develop when an employer makes assumptions about what a staff member will want once they reach a certain age but chooses to remain in work. Take out the guesswork by always having an open dialogue with staff members. Regular one-to-ones with line managers prove very useful here, as they allow employees to get things off their chest or query aspects of their work in a private and confidential environment. As an employer, keep on reminding staff that your door is always open if someone needs anything too.

Avoid giving people the wrong impression that your workplace only caters for a specific age group or demographic too. UK pub company JD Wetherspoon is keen to ensure its workforce is incredibly broad, with their recruitment manager Sarah Carter pointing out to “Some people’s perception of our industry is that it’s a youth-oriented one. So, while we were very good at employing students, we’d always struggled to attract applications from the older age bracket. We still get people ringing up saying, ‘I’m 45 – am I too old for a bar manager job?’. The answer is absolutely no way!”

Having a diverse workforce including senior citizens can bring unique benefits to a business. Ms. Carter explains: “One of our older workers said he felt he had a great rapport with our customers, because some of them are more comfortable talking to staff their own age.”

2. Look for ways to make the workplace more accessible

You can alter your workplace in various ways to make it more appealing to elderly employees. For one, take the time to assess your workspace and the tasks performed during a day’s work to ensure that nothing could be contributing to musculoskeletal issues, making adjustments and improvements where necessary. Can mechanical assist devices be introduced to achieve less stressful handling, for instance? How about a platform being used to raise a worker so that they don’t have to bend their wrists as much while working? Obviously, the measures will be different depending on the type of industry you’re a part of.

Ensure that you’re taking the time to evaluate how accessible your work place is for employees too. Consider the distance someone must cover to get from their parking spot to their workspace, for example, as well as to and from either a break room or restroom once they are at work.

Once you’ve evaluated the workplace, identify ways to make the spaces easier to navigate. If the workplace is not on the ground floor or over multiple floors, look at installing a stair lift on the stairs so that nobody has trouble navigating across levels. Automatic doors should make entering a building quicker too, while altering a layout so that workspaces are closer to break rooms could prove beneficial to both the employee and business as well.

Older employees

3. Provide part-time opportunities and flexible working alongside full-time work

A 9 ‘til 5 job from Monday to Friday, may be unappealing to some staff members, especially those reaching their elderly ages. Flexible hours and part-time roles could suit them much better.

Part-time working hours, may be appreciated by older employers, giving them shorter working week. This is because it will give them an opportunity to transition out of the workforce in a smoother manner. Meanwhile, flexible working will grant older employees the chance to remain in employment while better balancing their other responsibilities — perhaps they need to care for an elderly loved one, for instance.