Great expectations: On the job at 55+

Whether it’s topping up pension income, pursuing a life-long interest or to paying daily bills, many Canadians continue to want to stay on the payroll. 

Full-time, part-time or on a flexible basis, one in four of us is staying on the job after age 55. You can find us in small and large businesses, every level of government, in the non-profit sector, or as consultants, entrepreneurs and artists.

As this trend of staying on past retirement age continues, expect change in the way companies hire and run their workplaces. There will be exciting new opportunities and, perhaps, the chance to learn different skills along the way.

It’s simply untrue that hiring or re-hiring older workers is not good for business. Known for their loyalty, reliability, experience, they have less turnover, fewer accidents and lower absenteeism rates than their younger counterparts.

And worry not, an older adult’s potentially slower performance at work will usually be balanced out by their quality of work and accurate decision-making in high-stress situations.

A well run, well-designed, accessible workplace is better for everyone, but know that there are some things to consider that will make a healthy difference for older workers. Beyond repetitive strain injuries, which arise over time, the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety shares this workplace guidance:

• Reach and flexibility tend to decline with age, as does functional breathing capacity (up to 40 per cent between 30–65 yrs). This could affect jobs requiring extended physical labour or work in hot or cold conditions.

• Posture and balance could be hard to maintain for muscular effort, precise adjustments, work done on angles or slippery/unstable surfaces.

• Recovery time
could be impacted by lack of sleep for aging shift or night workers.

• Safety and productivity could be affected by noise, as well as hearing loss and vision changes.

• Cognitive changes
, such as short-term memory loss, could mean that certain tasks and activities could take longer.

Older workers use their expertise and experience to overcome some of the challenges related to aging and make some of the best employees you’ll find.

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