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The baby boomer population is rising, and it’s affecting the age distribution in the workforce. Employers who have older workers in their team need to consider the impact of certain kinds of work on their employees’ health. Aside from coaching and training, business owners also need to ensure the safety of their employees. As people age, more and more conditions arise, which is why it is important to take note of the factors that may affect older people at work.

Are Older People Less Productive?

Just because an employee is older, it does not make him or her less productive. In fact, older employees are known to be more dedicated to their jobs than younger employees are. Older and middle aged employees show fewer turnovers, and can have more positive work values. Being absent frequently is not really a problem, unless the worker is suffering from an injury or chronic illness. In fact, there is no relation at all to aging and work performance. Poor performance at work can happen at any age. Lack of motivation, on the other hand, is often brought on by lack of recognition, lack of support, high work stress, and disagreement with managers.

Safety and Security Concerns for Older Workers

There are safety and security concerns involved with older workers. These include:

  • Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) – Older individuals are often prone to muscle conditions, which is why MSDs are very common with older employees.
  • Work Hours – Excessive work hours can result in fatigue and bring about work-related stress.  Older employees may have trouble recovering from late night shifts, so they should be carefully considered and possibly avoided.
  • Psychosocial Issues – work related stress develops when the demands at work go over the worker’s capacity to cope. Tight deadlines, increased work pace, and other factors could overwhelm workers.
  • Vision, Noise, and Hearing – Older workers’ vision, noise, and hearing may change through time. They may find it harder to focus or hear which leads to vision impairment and hearing loss. This could make it hard for the employee to understand some instruction and participate fully during noisy meeting environments.

Factors to Consider When Having Older Workers

  • Learning curve- older workers may have a longer learning curve, but this is not true for everyone. If you find that some of your employees take time to learn, just be patient with them. To make things more convenient for you, prepare a manual that they can refer to from time to time.
  • Offer additional training and opportunities for advancement- older employees have different motivations than younger employees. Instead of giving one-time bonuses and recognitions, older employees prefer opportunities of advancement. These people are looking for stability more than anything else, so the best way for them to settle down is gaining a position with more responsibilities.
  • Value their personal experience- older employers have seen and done a lot during their time. They may have not have as much industry experience as you do, but they have more experience in life. Be willing to recognize and learn from their experience, because the lessons they can teach you and your staff are invaluable. The lessons of life apply in whatever position or industry, so don’t take it for granted.

Do you also have employees older than you on your team? How do you manage them? Try these tips if you’re still having trouble relating to them.

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Paul Bailey

Paul is a highly experienced Business Coach, Mentor and Personal Development Specialist. He works with people to enhance business and personal performance through a process of supported self-awareness and self- development. Paul is the Co-Author of the book 80 Tips.