5 ideas for managing an aging workforce
In California and across the country, the baby boom generation has been a force to be reckoned with since it first arrived on the scene following World War II. Cities built schools to accommodate the unprecedented numbers of children. Then, as children became adults, manufacturers designed products and retailers created ad campaigns with them in mind.
Now, as boomers move toward and into retirement, employers are devising strategies to capitalize on the strengths of older workers while overcoming the challenges they represent. Here are five tips:
1. Be flexible. Many older workers want to ease into retirement. You can help them make a smooth transition — while still benefiting from the institutional knowledge and critical skills they've developed over the course of their careers — by implementing a phased retirement program. Allow those nearing retirement to switch from full-time to part-time work. Providing full benefits and access to a portion of their pension makes it more likely your older workers will stay longer.
2. Put safety first. While health doesn't always decline with age, it's certainly more likely. Deteriorating memory, strength, flexibility, balance, reaction time, concentration, eyesight or hearing can increase the risk of injury for aging workers and their co-workers. Fortunately, thanks to new tools and equipment, you have many opportunities to mitigate workers compensation claims and help your aging workforce continue to work safely. As a bonus, new equipment such as lifting devices can open up some positions to workers who previously didn't have the physical capacity to perform them.
3. Encourage wellness. An aging workforce often means an increase in health insurance claims and prescription drug costs as more serious health conditions typically affect older workers. Workplace wellness programs can help employees take better care of their health. Programs stretch across a wide spectrum, such as healthier options in cafeterias and vending machines, smoking cessation programs, onsite flu vaccines, weight loss contests, exercise programs and more.
4. Offer an employee assistance program. Boomers may struggle to balance the demands of caring for infirm parents or spouses while holding down a job. Services that help with personal and work-related issues, such as elder care, can help ease the strain. Employees can use the services, such as counseling and referrals, for themselves or their families, which can reduce stress and allow workers to better focus on their jobs.
5. Have them mentor younger workers. Sooner or later, mature workers will leave your employment, whether they choose to retire or face health problems that prevent them from working. The time to prepare for that eventuality is now. Devote resources to training and developing employees who will step into key positions vacated by departing older workers.
Investing in your employees is investing in your business
Companies that adapt to accommodate older workers have seen benefits that include increased profits, enhanced retention and productivity, and improved organizational culture, according to an article in Harvard Business Review. For more inspirational ideas that can help you grow your business, visit California Bank & Trust's Business Resource Center.[cite::171::cite] [cite::172::cite]