Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Retaining the Older Employee

If you want to continuing working beyond the traditional retirement age, this is an ideal time to start studying what changes in working conditions could be negotiated to make that possible. To jumpstart your thinking, I'm looking at Karen Hart's research in health care.

Because the average age of an American nurse is now 48 and increasing with each survey, hospitals are considering the following accommodations to make it possible for an older body to do a job as physically demanding as nursing. Personally I think the ones involving lifting are the most crucial as I'm not sure Rambo could safely lift the over 400 lb patient.

Flexible shifts (option of 4, 6, and 8-hours, as well as job sharing)
Patient assignments in clusters to avoid extensive walking
Improved design of patient units with an emphasis on flooring, lighting, placement of nurses' stations, etc.
Ergonomics committees and training
Mechanical devices to assist with patient lifting, such as over-the-bed lift devices, etc.
Patient stretcher beds that convert to chairs
Bariatric patient equipment/accommodations
Lift teams
Transport teams
Improved lighting accommodations for older workers
Ergonomically improved office equipment (computers, desks, chairs, lighting, etc.)
Job sculpting (redefining/redesigning work roles/reskilling) for mature workers
Financial/retirement planning assistance
Implementation of wellness programs (strength training, etc.)
Back care/safety training
On-site or subsidized health club membership
Stress-reduction training
Use of older workers to mentor newer employees and intergenerational workshops/committees
Flexible benefit packages
Reduced floating and overtime for tenured employees
Flexible/phased retirement options
Knowledge transfer

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