Vitality in the workplace: 60 is the new 40

Sixty is the new forty. Right? You see it all around you. The vast majority of people in their sixties are still very much alive. They don’t feel old and they do all sorts of things. This also applies to older employees within organisations. But you don’t stay fit and vital just like that. And that is not only a responsibility of the employee himself, but also, for example, of the employer. As an HRM, how do you ensure that employees stay fit and vital? What influence do you have?

First the figures. The age structure has changed considerably since 1950. Immediately after the Second World War there was the birth wave. The number of births remained high until 1965, after which the number of births declined considerably. Many people born just after the war have now retired. Because of all this, the number of people over 65 is rising enormously. In addition, on average we are getting older. In 1980, the average age expectancy was 72 for men and 79 for women. In 2017, this increased to 80 years and over 83 years respectively. Life expectancy is predicted to rise further to 86.5 years (men) and 89.9 years (women) by 2060. And it is expected that in 2040, 60-year-olds will live longer without physical limitations and in good health.

Five tips for HRM professionals

HRM professionals therefore have to deal with an increasing number of older employees. And they are increasingly healthy and fit. As an HRM you can contribute to older employees continuing to feel vital in the workplace. And that involves body and mind. Both are important. Five tips:

Tip 1: Use people based on their talents

It is important for every person to be able to do what he or she is good at. Because it makes you feel valuable. It is also good for the organization. I once mentored a firefighter. He is very good at scheduling and had indicated several times that he would like to work in the planning department. After three years he finally got the chance. He’s completely blossomed. And he’s gotten better as a firefighter, too. It is therefore important that older employees are also encouraged to use their skills and continue to develop. They too have ambitions.

Tip 2: Make sure you have a healthy brain

Create healthy challenges in the workplace. Challenges that match the employee’s talents, experiences and potential. Research shows that it is important for older employees that the work is challenging and that there are sufficient learning opportunities. So keep investing in it, even though older employees may need more time to acquire new knowledge and competences. Good to know: older employees generally attach more importance to interesting work, being able to use skills and performing meaningful tasks that contribute something.

Want to know more about the healthy brain? I myself read with great pleasure and interest the book ‘The ten commandments for the brain‘ by dr. Rene Kahn. It contains advice on how to optimize the brain by paying close attention to lifestyle. Very informative, also for HRM people.

Tip 3: Promote sociality and collectivity

Of course, we’re all busy. And the first thing to go is the way you interact with your colleagues. Many staff associations have fallen in recent years. And team building days are often highly goal-oriented. However, this is at the expense of sociality and collectivity among colleagues. While it is so important to do nice things together outside of work. This way you get to know your colleagues in a different way. This contributes to a good atmosphere at work. You understand each other better, can take more from each other and have more for each other.

Tip 4: Create a healthy environment

A healthy eating and drinking pattern contributes to fitness and vitality. Unfortunately, in our society, bad food is everywhere for the taking. Also in many company canteens. My advice: away with the croquettes, choose healthy food. And make sure that people experience that healthy food can also be tasty. A healthy environment stimulates a healthy lifestyle. You can also encourage movement. Encourage the use of bicycles to work. Lower the threshold to exercise, with your own gym or a collective subscription to a gym. And encourage employees to alternate computer work with a walk. The possibilities are endless and don’t always have to cost a lot of money.

Tip 5: Use the seniority of employees

We keep stressing it: older employees have a wealth of knowledge and experience. Moreover, they know a lot about the history and development of the organization. They are the culture carriers of the organization. It is therefore very important that older employees safeguard and share their knowledge. Important for the organisation, pleasant for the employee. Because that way they remain valuable and motivated. For example, pair him or her with a younger colleague. Indeed, that takes time and therefore money. But it delivers much more in the long run.

More about life-phase aware personnel policy? Download the e-book

Would you like to read more about sustainable, life-phase-aware personnel policy? Download our e-book ‘Wijs met grijs, duurzaam personeelsbeleid in de praktijk’. Packed with tips and background information on harnessing the power of older employees.

Are there older employees in your organization who will be retiring soon? Or are you curious what else Essenburgh can do for you? Then take a look at our retirement in sight training.

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dr. Pim Valentijn

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