This is a guest post written by Jim Vogel of ElderCare.org. He enjoys providing valuable information to seniors and their caregivers. His mission is to help ensure seniors are able to thrive throughout their golden years. Jim is the co-founder of Elder Action, which aims to provide useful information to aging seniors.
If your employer embraces the value of older adults in the workforce, congratulations. You’re already part of a forward-thinking organization, but it doesn’t end with the hiring process. Whether you’re a direct supervisor of senior staff members or a part of the human resources team, you play a vital role in cultivating loyalty and promoting a positive work environment for these valued team members.
Make Use of Organizational Charts
You might not be a fan of traditional titles or of illustrating exactly where employees fall on the totem pole, but neglecting the value of an organizational chart can be a grave mistake. Why? These charts are like living, breathing documents that not only streamline communication and project management, but also reveal opportunities for growth and advancement. They can avoid miscommunication that arises from a lack of understanding who needs to be in-the-know.
Don’t Shy Away from Teaching New Technologies
One of the biggest misconceptions about older workers is that they aren’t motivated to or are incapable of learning the latest technologies. However, studies from the U.S. Department of Labor Aging Worker Initiative have consistently demonstrated older workers’ proficiency in both learning and adapting to new processes and technologies. In fact, avoiding the introduction of new tools and technology can leave older workers feeling undervalued.
Cultivate an Inclusive Working Environment
It’s not only important for you to discard prior misconceptions about older workers but to also cultivate an environment that’s accepting of all types of diversity, from LGBTQ employees to team members spanning a variety of age groups. When your team recognizes the value of diversity, the whole truly becomes greater than the sum of its parts.
Offer Flexible Work Arrangements and Accommodations
While many older workers continue to work out of a desire to remain active or pursue lifelong passions, there are sometimes circumstances that will make time away from the office necessary or desirable. For instance, a senior worker may have an ailing spouse requiring care at home or health concerns of their own.
Offering flexible or part-time work options creates a win-win situation: your company gets to take advantage of the value your older workforce brings to the table, and you provide an opportunity to remain active in the workforce without neglecting personal or family health issues. When employees are better able to balance work and personal demands and are able to take care of their health, they tend to perform better on the job.
Provide Opportunities That Capitalize on Their Strengths
Older workers have decades of life experience which has allowed them to fine-tune their interests and skill sets. Often, older workers understand where their strengths are and are able to communicate those skills to their employers. While you shouldn’t steer away from introducing new technologies, you should also solicit feedback from your team members and offer opportunities for them to put their skills and interests to use on the job.
Older adults bring tremendous value to the workforce, particularly in companies in which they feel supported and valued. As a manager or human resources professional, you play a crucial role in ensuring that senior employees feel appreciated. When they are able to balance their personal and professional lives, you’re creating a win-win situation that will benefit every individual team member and strengthen your team as a whole.
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