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Challenges and Opportunities of An Aging Workforce
Anthony L. Liuzzo, Donna Janet Evans

Last modified: 2011-09-08


The average age of the American workforce is increasing and employees are retiring later, creating both challenges and opportunities for companies.  Employers have learned that there are both advantages and disadvantages in hiring older, rather than younger, workers.  Advantages include: (1) the work ethic of older employees is often better than that of younger generations; and (2) companies derive benefits from the knowledge and experience of older workers.  Disadvantages include: (1) older workers may lack fresh ideas as compared with younger generations; and (2) there are increased costs associated with health benefits for older workers. 

As the age of the workforce increases, the organization needs to become even more concerned about employee well-being, as age generally has a direct impact on employee health and safety.   A major concern of organizations may not be the aging process itself but rather the physical and cognitive changes that are related to this process.  Such issues as sensory intact status and manual dexterity, and endurance and its effects on productivity must be considered.  In addition, the costs and benefits of using ergonomics to improve workplace safety, designing tools and equipment to prevent injury, making environmental adaptations for the older worker, and implementing safety/fitness programs must be measured.

Finally, knowledge management policies and practices, including succession planning/knowledge transfer, must be devised in order to protect the employer’s intellectual assets.


management, workforce, human resourses