A Census leaked in 2016, revealed that one in five Canadians aged 65+ 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. A business within Canada will likely have at least one older employee within its workforce. Therefore, it’s wise for employers to do everything possible to ensure their support to them so that they can continue to carry out their jobs in the most effective manner. In this article, award-winning stair lift manufacturer Acorn Stairlifts advises on how workplaces can be modified to suit older members of staff and ways that employers can support senior citizens at their company.
Designing the work place to be accessible
Workplaces can be designed to be appealing for older workers in many ways. 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 is also important to evaluate the accessibility of a work place for it’s 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.
After performing that, next would be to discover ways to make workplace easy to navigate. If the workplace is not on the ground floor or over multiple floors, look at installing stair lifts 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.
Flexible hours and part-time opportunities
Working 9 ‘til 5, Monday to Friday may be a struggle for some members of staff, especially as they get older. Flexible hours and part-time roles could suit them much better.
Senior members may appreciate part-time hours because the shorter working weeks will allow them 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.
Ensure that older workers are valued for the business
Issues can arise if an employer makes assumptions about what an employee may want once they’ve reached 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.
It’s important to never let employees think that the workplace is only suited 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!”
Senior Citizens can sometimes bring great benefits to a company, giving it a more diverse workforce. 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.”