How to Keep Older Workers Engaged on the Job

There are a lot of factors at play keeping employees in the workforce longer than before. For example, for many years, pensions have been on the decline (only a small minority of employers offer them now—meaning employees have more responsibility to save for their own retirement and may need to stay working longer in order to do so). The age to collect full social security benefits has risen. People are also living longer, which means they need even more savings to fund a longer time in retirement.


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Besides the people who stay in the workforce longer, there are also more and more retirees looking to rejoin the workforce as a way to stave off boredom and remain fulfilled over the years.

Putting these factors together means that employers will likely have the opportunity to keep their older employees in the workforce for longer periods if they choose to do so. They may also have the opportunity to hire more experienced employees. But as the workforce diversifies, it can be a challenge to know how to meet the needs of employees who have differing needs and desires.

Let’s take a look at some of the many ways that employers can keep older employees engaged and productive for as long as they would like to remain working for the organization.

Here are some ideas on how to keep older workers engaged on the job:

  • Give supervisors training in ways to manage different groups of people. Some supervisors/managers are unsure of how to manage a subordinate who is older than they are. Likewise, someone who already has decades of experience may be frustrated to have a much younger supervisor, so it pays to have training to help those in supervisory roles have tools to best manage the situation. This may include encouraging the supervisors to get frequent input from their experienced staff members—which can help both sides.
  • Consider implementing a mentorship program with more experienced workers who volunteer to be a part of it. This can have benefits of keeping both the experienced worker and the newer worker more satisfied on the job. Mentors can pass along valuable company expertise, and the newer employees can help the older employees stay engaged or even help them with newer processes or programs that are in use.
  • Pay attention to the types of benefits an older workforce may appreciate. This may include things like flexible working arrangements, allowing individuals to work from home sometime or to work a reduced schedule. It could also be implemented as a job sharing program in which more than one person is responsible for a single job role.
  • Besides flexible scheduling noted above, a further reduced schedule could also be implemented as a way to ease the transition to retirement, once the individual is ready. Of course, it’s important not to push someone into such an arrangement, but offering it as a benefit could encourage more experienced workers to stay with their current employer if they know they will have an option to make an easy transition to fewer working hours later.
  • Conduct employee engagement surveys to see what types of benefits or changes to the working environment employees would value.
  • Provide additional training sessions to help employees understand any new technologies that are utilized in the workplace.
  • Review your policies and benefit programs to ensure that none of them have any inadvertent problems that arise after an employee reaches a specific age. For example, ensure that any life insurance or disability insurance does not stop providing coverage after a specific age.
  • Train other employees to reduce or eliminate age discrimination. This is applicable to most other employees but especially those involved in hiring and employment decisions.
  • Pay attention to your absence policies and ensure that they are implemented fairly. There is an increased likelihood of an older worker needing to take more days off, and he or she should not be unfairly penalized.
  • Consider changing job duties if needed to tasks that are less strenuous.
  • Consider offering wellness programs. These types of programs can help to detect health issues early; this may allow early treatment for employees who choose to participate in the wellness initiative. Another benefit to consider would be on-site fitness facilities.
  • Find formal and informal ways to ensure that the breadth and depth of experience can be transferred to other employees before the older worker decides to leave the workforce.
  • Don’t overlook more experienced workers for challenging new opportunities. They may welcome a challenge and can utilize their knowledge.

What has been your experience with keeping older workers satisfied and happy on the job? What other tips would you suggest?

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