by Kathy Kirchoff
It may be hard right now to picture a time when jobs are plentiful and workers are desperately needed, but with large numbers of baby boomers retiring in the near future, those days are coming. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that by 2015, the number of workers 55 and older will hover around 30 million, or 20 percent of the total labor force, and that there will be a shortage of younger, skilled workers to replace them, especially in blue collar jobs. Companies will need to retain older workers in order to maintain production levels, and they will be willing to make changes in the workplace environment to accommodate you.
Older workers sometimes develop problems with vision, decreased dexterity and mobility, and/or have difficulties standing or sitting for long periods of time. But smart companies are getting prepared. For example, the BMW car company has started making changes on their assembly lines by enlarging their car part numbers, tool sizes, and computer screen font. They are installing wood floors, providing workers with special shoes, hair dresser chairs for sitting, and encouraging stretch breaks for those that can’t stand for long periods of time. These small changes are making a big difference and at a low cost. Similar accommodations will become the trend as more companies seek ways to improve the productivity of their older workers.
Companies are beginning to put more value on the experience, patience, stability, and good work ethic that the older worker brings to the workplace. With this new perspective, the graying workforce is looking better than ever to employers.