Catering for older people in the workplace
Posted: Jun 29, 2019
According to the 2016 Census, one in five Canadians aged 65 and older reported working during the year of 2015. This statistic translates to almost 1.1 million individuals and is the highest proportion that has been recorded since the 1981 Census. On top of this, an estimated 30 per cent of the seniors who said they worked in 2015 also acknowledged that they did so on a full-time basis across the entire year.
If you’re an employer in Canada then, it is very likely that you’ll have at least one older employee within your workplace. Therefore, you should be doing everything possible to support them so that they can continue to carry out their jobs in the most effective manner. In this article, award-winning stairlift supplier, Stairlifts Ontario advises on how workplaces can be modified to suit older members of staff and ways that employers can support senior citizens at their company.1. Assess your current workplace from an ergonomic and accessibility perspective
There are so many ways to make your workplace more appealing to older workers. 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.
It’s also important to evaluate how accessible a workplace is for employees. 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.
Once performed, you should be able to find ways to make a space easier to navigate. If the workplace is not on the ground floor or over multiple floors, look at installing either a straight or curved 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.2. Offer flexible working and part-time opportunities, not just full-time work
The standard 9 ‘til 5 shift from Monday to Friday may not be appealing to some members of staff, especially as they get older. Flexible hours and part-time roles could suit them much better.
When it comes to part-time work, senior workers may appreciate shorter working weeks as 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.3. Make it clear how valued older workers are at a business
Issues can be created if an employer simply makes assumptions about what an employee wants once they reach a certain age but remain in employment. Take out the guesswork by always having an open dialogue with staff member. 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.
Never let people think that a workplace is only for one age group or demographic either. 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!"
In fact, senior citizens can help provide a company with a diverse workforce which brings with it 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."
James is an Outreach Executive at Mediaworks Online Marketing and covers a number of clients across a wide range of business sectors, helping them to grow their online portfolios through engaging content.