Why is this so important? A client recently asked me, “How come all of my job applicants are either really young or really old?” That is because our current demographics look like a barbell. Our challenge is not just that we are aging; it is that the demographic behind us is very small relative to the boomers. So it is not just accommodating the boomers that is important—we must accelerate the learning of the millennials.
6. Invest in wellness plans and tie employee premiums to its success. Since health claims rise with age, you will be carrying a larger financial burden of health care costs as your workforce ages. It is critically important to place some of the burden of this cost on the employees themselves. You can vary their premiums dramatically by employing wellness plans and basing premiums upon wellness plan participation and performance. You can’t afford not to do this.
Missing the early warning signs on the aging of your workforce can cause your company to fall behind the competition, or can cause customer service quality issues. On the positive front, you can boost productivity with active changes that address the challenges that come with age. Our European counterparts are ahead of us in this regard. There is no way to instantly create an engineer with 30 years of experience, but there are ways to keep them longer and accelerate the learning of their replacements.
Make your environment a safer place to work, take personal and disability needs into account in your manufacturing and production processes, and structure the exit of your baby boomer employees to ensure you get the best of them in contributing and mentoring roles. As you take on a greater burden in your health plans, ensure you are sharing and shifting lifestyle responsibilities to the workers—they may work for you—but it is their life, their health and their responsibility, as well.