dan hounsell

Tapping into the Skills and Experience of Older Workers

Staffing continues to be a challenge for maintenance and engineer managers. Here are some tips for making use of the expertise of veteran staff.

By Dan Hounsell, senior editor  

Few topics dominate conversations among maintenance and engineering managers more often than staffing. Failing to find, train and retain enough qualified entry-level technicians is threatening the productivity of many departments and the quality of the work they perform. 

One ominous trend driving this crisis is brain drain — the continuing departure of older workers, who take valuable technical and institutional knowledge with them. Here is where the challenge for managers gets interesting. 

It is increasingly clear that the short-term answer to department staffing problems lies not in just fighting harder in the war for talent. The solution also requires managers to rethink and extend the roles of older workers. 

One bit of good news is that employers in most professions face the same challenge. This means managers searching for ways to retain older workers and tap into their knowledge can look to other markets for strategies that can work in their facilities. 

Astute organizations realize it is critical to keep older workers happily employed and take advantage of the valuable resource of their expertise before it is too late. Managers can work with top management and human resources to create age-friendly policies, such as providing more flexible work and retirement options, promoting lifelong learning, creating age-friendly workplaces and improving overall better working conditions. 

Managers also can push for their organization to offer social networks for retirees, paid sabbaticals, on-site employee convenience services, compressed work schedules, and free access for older workers to a wellness center, which offers recreation and fitness programs for employees and their families. 

For a discussion of the role of older workers in staffing challenges and opportunities, check out my recent article.

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  posted on 4/29/2022   Article Use Policy

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