Benefit Considerations for an Aging Workforce


An aging workforce can have an affect on many aspects of
your business but your benefits package may be the most significant. Older
employees have unique needs and preferences, which means that there may be
special considerations as our workforce ages.

Since the average age of retirement
has increased by four years
in the last decade and is expected to continue
to rise, it’s time to start making room for a seasoned workforce as we make benefit
decisions. Read below to learn about three major considerations.

Medical Benefits
Medical benefits for older workers may not cost companies as
much as you would think, but there are some important factors involved. First
off, older workers actually tend to have fewer workplace accidents and injuries
than the younger sector. They are more careful in what they do and because of
this, could help companies save. On the other hand, they typically have more
long-term injuries and illnesses, which is why medical benefits are so
important to them.

One way in which companies can plan for this is to offer
wellness programs and educate employees on health issue so that when they are
at the age where many of their peers experience serious health issues, they may
not be in that situation. Additionally, a healthier workforce means higher
productivity and longer retention periods.

Paid Time Off
As mentioned above, the types of injuries and illnesses that
older workers experience are often more long-term than younger workers. Because
of this, older workers may need a more flexible schedule that allows them to
take off a larger block of time. However, it’s important to note that while an
injury or illness may require more recovery time, that doesn’t necessarily mean
they are taking more sick days than their younger counterparts. In fact,
According to a recent study, workers over 45 call in sick an average of 3.1
days per year, compared to workers aged 17-44, who take an average of 3.8 days.

FMLA Benefits
Employees in their fifties or sixties may find themselves
part of the “sandwich generation,” in which they are caring for both children,
whether minor or adult, and aging parents. According to a report from the Department of Labor, more than 43 million Americans provide care for someone older than 50 who is
aging or disabled, including 15 million who care for someone with Alzheimer’s
disease or dementia. Nearly 1 in 10 women ages 45 to 56 is a member of the
“sandwich generation.”

Under FMLA, employees can take up to 12 weeks off work to
care for family members. This time can be used all at once or intermittently to
care for family members. Companies may need to consider going a step further,
though, by offering other services, such as counseling and support groups, to
help cope with associated stress.

Retirement
An increasingly aging workforce means that overall,
retirement will be pushed out further than we’ve seen in the past. It may be
time to start thinking about phased out retirement if your company doesn’t
already have a similar program.

According to Forbes, “Some companies have set up a Casual
Worker Program that allows them to hire or reemploy workers who would receive
limited benefits and no pension. Others invite grandparents to work in the
company child-care center.”

Providing retirement options for an aging workforce is
beneficial because they typically have a great deal of industry knowledge and
are hard workers. When you provide options for your older workers, they are more
likely to stay.

Has your company made any accommodations for our aging
workforce?

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology strategist specializing in social media. She’s an author who writes at Blogging4Jobs. You can follow her on Twitter @blogging4jobs. 

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