Older Americans Month: The Impact of an Aging Population in the Workplace

May 04, 2016
Tagged with: Older Americans Month: The Impact of an Aging Population in the Workplace

May is Older Americans Month, a time when we celebrate health awareness and how this practice can help us all to age happier, be healthier and live longer, more productive lives. Because 31.4 million of us over the age of 55 are still in the workforce, most health awareness can and should start in the workplace. These numbers are not going anywhere any time soon. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be even larger numbers of older Americans in the workplace by 2022 with 41.7 million people gainfully employed. This suggests that now more than ever, employers must pay careful attention to make the workplace a safer, healthier and happier place for employees of all ages.

Common Ailments and the Workplace

From hypertension in 44% of employees age 55 and older to carpal tunnel syndrome in 4-10 million workers, certain ailments become more common as we age. However, just because they are common does not mean that we cannot conquer them and make living with these conditions easier and healthier.

Those of us who are 55-64 can expect to miss a median of 12 days of work due to illnesses. This is a large leap from the 5 days of missed time that our younger counterparts contribute to sick day totals. However, while injuries that occur within any 10,000 hour work period are only slightly higher than that of younger employees, the numbers still add up with 106.6 of those injuries belonging to the 25-34 crowd and 114.7 to the 55-64 age group. With this in mind, there are some things you can do to lessen both injuries and sick days, improving the health of your employees and increasing attendance days.


Taking Control of Your Employees’ Health at Work

Sitting for hours on in can increase the risks of cancer, heart disease and bone conditions. In fact, more than 130 million clinic visits in one year alone are contributed to bone conditions. Considering that once we reach 55 our risks for arthritis rises, this is a statistic that is incredibly important. Consider this – not only does standing more frequently aid in improving health and decreasing the need for sick visits but it also boosts creativity and energy levels in your employees. Making small meaningful changes around your office can also help. Ergonomic keyboard, pens with larger barrels and readily available water alone can increase productivity and decrease health risks.

Many workplaces are now offering health incentives, health programs and even on-site medical care to decrease health problems and improve employee morale. 49% of employees whose companies offer some or all of these perks report that there has been a significant improvement in their medical condition and overall health.


Saving Lives and Saving Funds

The average employer costs for healthcare per FTE are up 4.4% from 2013. That is a whopping $9,560 and can really add up. Keeping employees healthier means not only saving lives in some cases but also saving revenue. When you take the time to care about the health of your employees, you will ultimately improve the health of your business too, making any efforts that you put forth a win/win.

For more information and resources on Older Americans Month visit: http://oam.acl.gov/2016/tipsheets.html

OHIO University The Ergonomics of Economics

Author: Audrey Willis

  • bobl07

    I love the idea of workplace wellness. It is so important to get out from behind the desk and find ways to exercise.

  • http://arealonlinedegree.com Audrey Willis

    Same here Bob! I hope employers began to see the positive impact this can have on their employees.