Older workers can offer organizations significant experience and expertise, as well as insight into a rapidly growing customer base. A number of strategies can greatly assist in retaining the talents of older workers, who may develop disabilities as they age, or attracting older workers anew. In addition to having reasonable accommodation and Return to Work processes in place, workplace flexibility is key to retention of older workers. For example:
- Part-time positions: Many older workers want to continue working, but would prefer to do so on a part-time basis. Similarly, job sharing allows valued employees, both older and younger, to work less than full time. The company benefits from the enhanced skill sets that result when two people share a single job.
- Temporary positions: Temporary replacement workers are needed periodically during vacation time, Family and Medical Leave Act leaves, or special projects. Companies are realizing the benefit of hiring from their pool of retirees because these former employees are well acquainted with the company’s business practices and do not require training to fill a temporary position.
- Seasonal positions: Some older workers prefer to work only at certain times of year or at different locations depending on the time of year.
- Snowbird programs: In these programs employees shuttle between two locations seasonally. This often appeals to older workers who seek warmer climates in the winter months and cooler climates in the summer. This is especially good for retail and heath care service sectors in which the customer base also migrates from north to south in the winter months. Companies with active snowbird programs include: CVS, Home Depot and Caronelet Health Network.
The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) offers a range of resources related to employees who are aging. Employers may also benefit from reading Recruitment and Retention of Older Workers: Considerations for Employers, a report summarizing the results of a study conducted by the Institute for Community Inclusion.