Ageing-friendly job design

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[edit] Introduction

Ageing-friendly job design refers to targeted measures to design workspaces and procedures in such a way that they are suited to the requirements of an ageing workforce. A deliberate distinction is made between the term “ageing-friendly” and the formerly more common term “age-friendly”. The objective of ageing-friendly job design is to maintain workers’ physical and psychological effectiveness throughout their working lives. It starts with young workers. By contrast, age-friendly job design focuses on maintaining the effectiveness of older employees.

[edit] Background

In the future, companies will be increasingly faced with workforces that are significantly older than is the case today. As such, workspaces and work organisation must be designed to facilitate the maintenance of work ability of employees into older age. Ageing-friendly job design encompasses a whole range of measures that need to be aligned and coordinated with one another. The most important factors are Continuing education and training and lifelong learning – as technology change and reorganisation become more frequent, lifelong CET is growing ever more important. Although this is totally undisputed, the proportion of employees engaging in CET falls with age. This is particularly true of the over-50s. Older people must accept that the job they do at 60 will not necessarily be the same job they once learned.

[edit] Preventive healthcare

Employment plays a key role in the prevention and development of chronic illnesses. As such, ongoing preventive healthcare in the workplace can be particularly effective for the prevention of physical and mental illness. The function of company health promotion and health management activities is to implement measures to eliminate health hazards effectively and permanently and to promote the health of individual employees.

[edit] Working time

The division and organisation of working time throughout an employee’s working life and the management of the transition into retirement are subjects of increasing discussion. People today live in many diverse ways. Their needs and options for aligning their working time with family, care, learning, leisure or other activities will vary widely depending on their particular circumstances. Requirements for and ways of organising the transition into retirement can also vary. While some people are able, and healthy enough, to work full-time until they reach statutory retirement age, others will need to work less in the final years of their working lives.

[edit] Corporate culture

In most companies, the discussion around older employees was long governed by the “deficit model” which focuses on the performance deficits that are assumed to come with advancing age. The challenge facing companies in the future, however, will be to preserve their effectiveness and innovativeness with a significantly older workforce. To manage this paradigm shift successfully, the focus will need to move away from the deficiencies of older people and onto their strengths. In a corporate culture committed to long-term staff development, the subject of ageing will be embedded in a strategy for development of the workforce and workforce structures. In this way, competencies can be fostered and developed to allow older people to deploy their specific capabilities to add value for the company.

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