March 29, 2017
How effectively is your organization engaging its aging workers? The measures you take to understand and address the emerging needs of workers as they go through the aging process will go a long way to helping your firm meet its productivity objectives and achieve or maintain operational excellence.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, workers aged 45 – 55 now comprise 44 percent of the workforce; more than one in five workers is over 55. While many employers benefit from the knowledge, experience and reliability of these individuals, they need to recognize how aging affects workers and examine ways to enhance worker safety and maintain productivity.
Generally, older workers tend to have decreased strength, muscle mass, reduced fitness levels, lower aerobic capacity, increased body fat, poorer visual and audio acuity and slower cognitive speed and function. These employees may be slower at performing certain tasks; they may need more rest periods, better lighting, limited lifting requirements, sit/stand options and longer recovery times for injuries.
Besides specific assessments and recommendations to improve lighting, signage, work stations and other physical aspects of jobs, employers need to engage older workers in new ways so they actively participate in training, safety and wellness programs. Indeed, employee engagement is a key to making each of these initiatives successful.
Here are some proven approaches for employers to engage aging workers more effectively in specific safety, ergonomics, and wellness initiatives that can facilitate reduced injuries and claim severity, better productivity and improved worker satisfaction.
Revisiting Safety Training
Effective training is a critical part of enhancing safety and improving job related injuries. Aging workers have been through so many training regimens over the course of their careers that they may not respond as effectively to certain formats that might have worked when they were new to their roles.
So, you might want to revisit the approaches you’ve taken with training. For example, consider redesigning training modules so that they’re both more interactive and focused on issues that relate directly to aging workers.
Instead of playing a video or subjecting employees to a lecture format presentation, conduct classroom training with hands-on learning opportunities. Be sure to address high-risk exposures for aging workers, such as preventing falls, musculoskeletal issues and ergonomics-related problems.