We spend a huge amount of time in our workplaces, so it’s no surprise that the atmosphere at work affects our mood. A supportive environment can make you feel uplifted, inspired and welcome, whereas a negative office environment can leave you feeling uncomfortable and un-invested in the company as a whole.
But when companies think of how to make their culture attractive to their employees and new candidates alike, they can often get caught up in focusing themselves towards one stereotypical employee, which can leave others feeling left out and unvalued. Unfortunately, this often means that seniors in the workforce feel like an afterthought, despite being just as valuable as everyone else. In fact, older workers are often the ones with the experience and stability that is needed to keep everything running smoothly.
So how can you make sure that your workplace caters for everyone? We take a look at some of the things you’ll need to consider.
This isn’t just a pointer for workplaces with senior citizens – all workplaces should avoid assuming that new starters are familiar with acronyms and processes, or that everyone has heard of the new technology they’re introducing. This is especially true when it comes to computer-based information – whilst younger generations have grown up with digital technology, older generations may not be fully aware of how to make this technology work best for them.
However, that doesn’t mean that you should patronise or call people out for not understanding something. Instead, explain to everyone what you’re talking about unless you know for sure that they have prior knowledge. In some cases, for new technologies for example, consider creating a help guide that can be stored centrally for everyone to access at their convenience.
Office socials are a key way of building team relationships at the same time as offering a staff benefit. But all too often in some companies, they focus around nights out and physical activities, which can leave some people feeling left out. Older employees are more likely to have dependents, which can make it difficult for them to join in every evening event. On top of that, it may be that they simply don’t feel comfortable getting involved in long drinking sessions – a hangover is not really ideal if you have to be up and about the next day.
Instead, focus on creating socials that don’t revolve around drinking, and consider the accessibility needs of all members of staff when choosing your activities. That doesn’t mean that you can’t go on to a bar after the main part of the day has finished, but make it clear that your employees should respect the individual decisions of team members when it comes to drinking and home time.
There is very little point in having work perks and policies if they don’t represent what your workforce needs. For example, seniors are more likely to have existing health conditions, and so if your health insurance doesn’t allow for pre-existing conditions, it might be good to look for a new provider, or give them the opportunity to opt out and receive the money in their paycheck instead.
Additionally, examine your policies to make sure that they support your team. Senior women, for example, may benefit from a menopause policy, something only 25% of companies offer. By making sure that you come up with policies before they’re needed, you can make all members of your workforce feel seen and valued.
Heather Murphy, Content Producer, and Researcher
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