According to the U.S. jobs report which was released in July 2017, around 19 per cent of people aged 65 years old or over were working at least on a part-time basis during the second quarter of 2017. This is the highest employment to population ratio that has been recorded by this age group in 55 years. What’s more, the Labor Department’s good employment report has recently recorded that the number of individuals aged over 85 years old who are still working is increasing too.
There is a very good chance that there’ll be at least one elderly citizen within your workplace if you’re an employer in the US then. 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. 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. Provide part-time opportunities and flexible working alongside full-time work
Some staff members, especially those who are reaching elderly age, will find the typical 9 ‘til 5 shift from Monday to Friday unappealing. Flexible hours and part-time roles could suit them much better.
Older employees may appreciate the shorter working weeks that part-time work will provide them with. 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.
2. Look at the ergonomic and accessibility aspects of your current workplace
Your workplace can be altered in various ways to make it much 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.
Be sure to take the time to evaluate how accessible a workplace 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.
After this evaluation, many ways to make a space easier to navigate should be identified. 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.
3. Let older employees know how valued they are to a business
When an employer simply makes assumptions about what a staff member will want once they reach a certain age but chooses to remain in work, issues can quickly develop. 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.
Be sure to avoid having people believe that a 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 Caterer.com: “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!”
A diverse workforce that senior citizens can help to provide to a business can actually bring with it some unique benefits. 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.”