Three Ways to Accommodate Older Workers

by Michael Haberman on July 7, 2014 · 2 comments

Don't ignore older workers just because they have reached another birthday

Don’t ignore older workers just because they have reached another birthday

July 7th  is/was my birthday depending on when you are reading this. I will admit it was my 63rd. I am aware of issues with being older and the perceptions people have of you capabilities. As I was reviewing some material I came across this brief article by Michael North and Hal Hershfield called Accommodate Older Workers. I am going to tell you their tips and add a few comments myself.

Tip #1

Creating new positions or adapting old ones.

To North and Hershfield this meant to retrain older employees for jobs that better suit their current needs and skills. My comment: Older workers are often overlooked for retraining based on a couple of assumptions. These include: time an employee may have in the workforce; capabilities both physical and mental and desire. All I can say is never ASSUME. As the saying goes if you assume it will make an ass of you and me.

I have no intention of retiring anytime soon and many of my age cohort feel the same way. I am also very capable of learning new things, some of which are very technical. So don’t ignore me for that next assignment.

Tip #2

Flexible retirement.

My Comment: Ok, some older workers do want to retire, but slowly. Why not take advantage of the wealth of knowledge they have and retain them for longer, training younger workers who do not have the institutional knowledge you may need. There is value to understanding the history of things. Flexible retirement will allow you to move younger workers forward but retain valuable workers you have.

Tip #3

Changing workplace ergonomics.

Companies should adapt for those who need extra support. Inexpensive tweaks like custom shoes and easier-to-read computer screens can make a huge difference. My Comment: For those of you on your toes this is basically REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION. As you get older hearing does fade, as does eyesight. Feet hurt, we get achy, as will you. Having some comfortable furniture and equipment will be able to help everyone do a better job.

There is my rant about getting older. If you want to leave a comment do so. If you want to Tweet about this you can do that too… if you know how to do that.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Gary Henderson July 8, 2014 at 9:55 am

First of all, Happy Birthday Mike. This is a good topic concerning older workers. Do you or any of your readers have any experience or ideas on adapting highly physical jobs as the company’s workforce ages? If the work environment is very much graded on performance, as the workers get older, they just cannot physically keep up to the performance standards that a 20-30 year old worker can. I know that I can not lift all day like I used to. They may be very accurate, and know the job well, but just cannot keep up the pace. I know the military uses a sliding age scale for their physical fitness testing for the passing requirement. Any ideas from your experience in a physically demanding work environment and how to accommodate an aging workforce?

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Michael Haberman July 8, 2014 at 5:01 pm

Gary:
I don’t have any direct experience with this but I will ask the question in other forums and see if we can get a response.

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