10 things to do to be an age-friendly employer

Things to do to be an age-friendly employer


The benefits of being an age-friendly employer

As the population in Singapore ages rapidly, companies need to think of ways to accommodate older workers and maintain productivity. This saves costs down the line as workers can stay employed longer and continue to contribute their skills to the job at hand. In a case study on BMW, the management made 70 small changes in 1 assembly line of 1 division in an auto plant in Germany, so that it could accommodate workers averaging 47 years old. The changes were made to cut the chance of errors and physical strain. The cost of implementation was only €20,000, however productivity increased by 7% in 1 year – bringing the line on par with those manned by younger workers!

There’re many benefits to being an age-friendly employer – for one, this portion of your workforce that comes with a wealth of experience and knowledge in their chosen field can be utilised continuously and their skills can be passed on to the next generation in the workplace over a longer period of time.


Are there government incentives to help you become an age-friendly employer?

Yes! The WorkPro initiative is designed to encourage businesses in Singapore to create workplace processes that make for safer jobs for older people and put age management practices in place.

Here are our 10 tips for becoming an age-friendly employer


1.   Fight ageism and discrimination in the workplace

Be a truly equal opportunity employer. Recognise your older workers for their contribution to your business. If an aged employee is worthy of a promotion as compared to her younger peers, she should never be passed over.

Ensure you have a zero-tolerance policy for any workplace bullying, including discrimination based on age. These negative attitudes can affect the morale of your entire staff, disrupt the work day, and cause mental upsets among their targets. In order to maintain health of all your employees and thereby maintain and increase productivity, strict policies must be in place to deal with bullies.


2.   Create an age-friendly environment

Making sure that the physical workplace is age friendly is of high importance when becoming an age-friendly employer. Maintaining the physical and mental health of older workers is of utmost importance, so necessary precautions should be put in place. For example, BMW introduced special shoes and wooden floors in order to help older people stay on their feet for as long as they were used to doing and provided special chairs for those who could work better seated.


3.   Office amenities and furniture

Aged workers often require different setups within their office than other employees – simply to accommodate physical strains that begin to present themselves later in life. For example, elevators and automatic doors can make getting around the offices or factory easier. This saves energy and effort for use on actual tasks during the working day, rather than just getting around from point to point. Further, purpose-built furniture and appropriate placement of equipment can enhance the performance of an older worker.


4.   Lighting and print in the workplace

As eyes age, lighting can be more difficult to adjust to. Brighter lights are required for the same things to be seen clearly as compared to previously. Take this into account if your workforce needs to focus on details – designing, reading and writing, and almost all parts of the production chain could stand to be better lit for the older eyes. As with lighting, deteriorating eyesight reduces the ability to quickly grasp notations in print or on screen. Thus, font sizes used at the workplace should be increased to make easier reading.


5.   Provide training to bring skills up-to-date

With grants from the government available to help with training costs, it’s more possible now than ever to enroll workers in training programmes and learning schemes designed to help them improve their abilities. Help your older workforce improve their productivity by encouraging them to take part in training to upgrade their skills. You can then appoint older members of your workforce in a teaching role to pass that knowledge down to younger employees, ensuring the best use of their time and new skills, and creating a company community that will all aid in increasing efficiency.


6.   Organise day-trips and workforce bonding activities

The aged can often suffer from loneliness or a lack of ability to transport themselves around as easily as they used to be able to. Consider organising company outings that will have the impact of both strengthening the company culture and increasing bonds among your employees. Happy employees are proven to be much more productive than those just going through the motions. So keeping your entire workforce feeling energised and included is a smart way to make the mood and atmosphere of the workplace even more pleasant.


7.   Consider communal transportation incentives

Many older people can find it difficult to use public transport or to drive themselves to work through rush hour each and every day. Consider adding incentives to your workforce to encourage commute-sharing, where a group of employees from the same area travel in together. Not only would such a move increase community feeling both at work and outside of working hours, it’d also help lessen the amount of cars on the road.


8.   Allow for flexible working hours

The older, more experienced folks are valuable facets of their community. Many of them tend towards providing childcare for younger family members, teaching others from their bank of personal knowledge, and volunteering. All these aspects of community life can continue by introducing flexible working hours for workers.


9.   Healthcare options and help

As with flexibility in working hours, allowing time for healthcare appointments and such at company’s expense may be included as an additional benefit to workers who have been with you for a certain amount of years. Healthcare that directly affects the ability to work, both physically and mentally, could be provided or in some way covered by the company as a means of showing you care for the well-being of your workforce.


10.   Meetings to include older workers in decisions involving them

The people who know best what they require to help them stay a vital part of your workforce are the older employees themselves. Make sure to involve aged workers regularly in meetings to discuss about changes in the workplace environment. Not only will your workforce feel more valued to be included, but you’ll gain insights that you may never otherwise have gleaned.