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    Workplace Safety Topic

    Older Workers

    Businesses in Montana rely on workers of all ages to get the job done well. And for a business owner, having skills and perspectives that span decades can be an enormous benefit. Whenever the “new way” and the “old way” cooperate well, experience and innovation can meet and find ways to optimize the work at hand.

    That said, there are challenges specific to having aging workers on staff: a skills gap that emerges as older workers retire, friction over adopting new practices, physical risks when workers are no longer performing tasks that fit their abilities, and more. But with thoughtful attention, smart training and (as always!) good communication, workers of all ages can continue to make valuable contributions to a company and lead fulfilling work lives too.

    Getting Started:

    Among the challenges that come with an aging workforce is the need to update procedures and practices, even if some staff members don’t see a need to do so. Rather than simply dictating a new practice and hoping for adoption, use these steps to increase the likelihood that everyone will get on board:

    • Have an open conversation about your reasons for considering a new procedure or training.
    • Ask for suggestions on how to perform the task better.
    • Use workers’ years of experience to help teach the new procedure or equipment or training.
    • Ask workers to share a story of an accident with the old process, then compare how the new method could eliminate or reduce the chance of that accident happening.
    • Be clear about the “so what,” the end goal or the reasons why behind the new procedures, systems or job tasks.
    • Identify solutions to prevent workers from going back to old habits.
    • Ask workers how the new procedure is working, and seek ongoing input for improvement.