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Employer Assistance & Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN): A service of The Viscardi Center.
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Retaining Older Workers

A recent Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) study shows that the majority of companies have made no special provisions for older workers and don't know the impact that the increasing age of the workforce will have on their recruiting, retention and management policies and practices.

Anticipating Changing Workforce Needs

The AARP Workforce Assessment Tool for HR Managers, helps managers:

  • Assess how retiring workers will affect their organization
  • Address skill shortage challenges due to staff attrition
  • Create a work environment that attracts qualified workers of all ages
  • Manage a multi-generational workforce
  • Build an employer brand that attracts and retains top talent

Retaining Experienced Workers

A key strategy in retaining older, experienced workers is use of flexible work arrangements, as documented by the Generations of Talent Study.

  • Work schedule flexibility: flex schedule, annualized hours, compressed work week
  • Work hour flexibility: reduced hours, job sharing, phased retirement, part-year
  • Career flexibility: on/off ramps that include leaves, reduced responsibilities, job change/occupation shift
  • Flexibility of place: remote work locations, work from more than a single location
  • Flexibility in the employment relationship: project work, consultation, temporary work
  • Benefit flexibility: cafeteria plan, benefits during retirement, etc.

Benefits of flexible work arrangements:

  • Allow older employees who no longer wish to work traditional full-time schedules more control over their time without giving up paid employment entirely
  • Enable employees to extend their careers with the same employer or in the same occupation or industry instead of moving to self-employment or to different occupations or sectors where part-time work schedules are more common, such as retail.

Maximizing Workplace Performance

Strategies for minimizing declines in workplace performance that are the result of age-related physical, cognitive or sensory disabilities include:

  • Ergonomic Design: individualized approaches can be used to prevent injury/disability;
  • Job Analysis: examines specific job functions that result in increased injury;
  • Assistive Technology Devices: can increase, maintain or improve the functional capacity and productivity of a worker;
  • Job Accommodations: modify the work site or work process to increase productivity;
  • Wellness and Integrated Health Promotion: can lower health care utilization and costs. Examples include smoking cessation, exercise, and weight management programs.
  • Training Initiatives: upgrade and maintain skills by using varied training methods
    • Multiple, shorter training sessions
    • Mixed training formats
    • Self-paced/directed learning
    • Extra time and slower pace
    • Small group training
    • Training environments that minimize noise or provide other accommodations for employees with hearing/vision impairments
    • Distraction-free practice of new skill
    • Early error correction
    • Linking new learning to current work
    • Direct/immediate application of new skills to current job


Other Resources

Return to Work Toolkit<>
This Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy resource provides information, tools, strategies and resources to assist employees and employers with the return-to-work process.

Staying Ahead of the Curve 2013: The AARP Multicultural Work and Career Study<>
This 2013 report by AARP examines the experiences, opinions and expectations of older workers and provides examples of workforce practices employers have engaged in to address the needs of an aging workforce.

Employees Who Are Aging <>
This resource from the Job Accommodation Network's Accommodation and Compliance Series addresses issues relating to the aging workforce and considerations for accommodations and flexibility in the workplace.

Recruitment and Retention of Older Workers: Considerations for Employers< >
This Institute for Community Inclusion brief discusses the motivational factors that drive companies to focus on older workers, the cultural contexts of businesses that have undertaken these practices, and the range of recruitment and retention practices and initiatives used by employers. It also offer suggestions to employers on the relevance of the findings to their own workplace practices, initiatives, and cultures.

Page last updated on Tuesday, September 10, 2013