The 2016 census had revealed, that 1 in 5 Canadians aged 65 and over were reported to be 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 run a business in Canada, then it is very likely that you’ll have a least one older employee within your workplace. With that, it is important that you are doing every possible to support 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.
1. Make it clear that your older workers are valued
Issues can start to arise when an employer simply makes assumptions about what an employee wants 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.
Never allow these people to think that the workplace is only catered to 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 in fact, bring diversity to the company’s workforce which can be quite beneficial. 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.”
2. Access your workplace from an ergonomic and accessibility perspective
There are a variety of 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.
Evaluating how accessible your workplace is for its employee is also important. 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 you’ve performed the evaluation, you should be able to address ways to make space easier to navigate. 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. Offer flexible working and part-time opportunities, not just full-time work
Working 9 till 5 from 5 days week may not be appealing to some members of staff, especially the older ones. Flexible hours and part-time roles could suit them much better.
Part-time work may be appreciated by senior workers as they work shorter less days of the week which gives them the 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.