7 Tips To Help Older Workers Stay Healthy And Productive

Retirees and late-career workers can make great contributions to your business. Follow these tips to keep them healthy and happy on the job.

In the portable restroom business, summer usually means “all hands on deck.’’ And for many PROs, the deckhands may include a retiree seeking a part-time job or an older family member who likes to help out when you’re serving special event customers or when the office staff gets overwhelmed working the phones and processing the billing.

Older employees can bring a wealth of knowledge and a tremendous work ethic to your business. A veteran worker who has dealt with customers in other business settings can bring a sense of calm and order during your busiest season. And they can serve as effective mentors and set a good example for younger members of your team.

When you pair the steady influence of a seasoned worker with the energy of a college-aged summer employee, for example, the result can be the benefit of brains working with brawn. The older worker knows a thing or two about digesting instructions from a supervisor and following through on the job. The younger worker can dance with portable restrooms all day long, wrangling the equipment on location with ease.

Older workers offer other benefits as well. A retiree can have a wide-open schedule and a willingness to work in the early mornings or here and there on the weekends. And they are often taking on a job just to earn a little extra spending money or to keep active. Because they don’t count on your business for their livelihood, they can fit in perfectly with your changing workflow. They won’t mind working 20 hours this week, then not coming in at all next week.

KEEP’ EM HEALTHY

The graying workforce has a lot to offer the portable sanitation industry, but they also present a challenge. How do you protect older workers from injury and burnout on the job? What can a small-business owner do to ensure these valued employees will continue to make a lasting contribution for years to come?

An author and expert on recovery from trauma and personal tragedy, Ruth Crocker, Ph.D., (www.ruthcrocker.com) has some advice for small-business owners looking to hire and retain older workers. In a recent article, 7 Guidelines For Engaging and Accommodating Your Older Staff, Crocker shared these insights:

  • Maintaining an unmoving position for a long time is very tiring, especially standing, which puts pressure on blood vessels. Repeated and prolonged static work can be harder on the body than dynamic work. Provide opportunities to change posture or position during the workday. Adjust work surfaces to encourage position changes.
  • Sitting is generally good if chairs are well designed and adjustable. To avoid the dangers of prolonged sitting (weakened abdominal muscles, digestion and breathing problems, and damage to spinal discs), provide training and information on sitting properly and permit opportunities to walk about and stretch.
  • Provide appropriate equipment for assisting in any type of lifting. Workers of all ages are vulnerable to injury by improper lifting technique and lifting objects that are too heavy. Teach them to decrease the need to twist the trunk of the body during lifting, using leg strength rather than leaning over and placing the load as close to the body as possible.
  • Because grip strength gradually decreases with age, the right grip or handle becomes important. Smaller handles become more difficult to use. Provide tools and controls with user-friendly handles.
  • Light reaching the retina of the eye declines by as much as 75 percent from age 20 to 50. Improved lighting helps all workers. Problems with adjusting to lighting contrasts can be improved by ensuring that the level of lighting in the room is similar to the light level on computer screens in the environment. Reduce glare by using low or nonglare computer screens.
  • Gradual, age-related hearing loss and decreased ability to hear high-pitched sounds can be addressed by installing sound-absorbing material (to neutralize sound) and minimizing air-conditioning noise.
  • Offer incentives to encourage people to take part in fitness classes and quit-smoking campaigns. Older workers are more vulnerable to the possibility of sudden-onset and lasting health problems, especially if they are unfit and overweight.

GOOD FOR EVERYONE

Crocker’s advice isn’t just good for late-career workers or retirees looking to stay in the action. The tips will keep all of your workers happier and healthier during the dog days of summer. Remember that good workers of all ages are your most important customer service asset. But when you need a little extra help, keep in mind the growing number of baby boomers that still feel like they have some productivity to offer.



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