Creating a Welcoming Workplace for the Older Worker in Healthcare Industry

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Vanderbilt University
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The healthcare industry is facing challenges with a growing number of older workers. The older workforce, often referred as baby boomers, possesses exceptional skills and experiences, which boost the healthcare sector. Health care facilities and hospitals risk a significant loss of competencies from these baby boomers due to retirement. At my workplace, the older workforce comprises of about 60% of baby boomers. Most of them are approaching their retirement time. It is believable that many hospitals globally have a huge number of older staff. Healthcare facilities ought to find ways to retain and accommodate their older workers.

The table below represents the demographic breakdown of employees at my place of work.

Age Range Number of employees

20-30 years 5

30-40 years 9

40-50 years 15

50-60 years 26

60-70 years 1

70+ None

National Council of State Boards of Nursing (2015) conducted a study on National Nursing Workforce. Results indicated that about 50% of registered, licensed, and vocational nurses were 50 years or older. As seen in the table above, a majority of the workforce are the older staff. In fact, they are the people who are most experienced and have the best skills within the workforce. Usually, they mentor the young nurses whose ages range from 20 -30 years. The working relationship is great because all the nurses help and listen to one another when helping patients.

The nursing environment can be both conducive and difficult for older workers. In a study of diversity within nursing, Beheri (2009) found that nurses who have full job satisfaction are likely to value differences and build honest relationships. One way the work environment could be conducive for the older workers is through offering support and accommodation. At my place of work, the manager ensures that he keeps the older population up-to-date with technology. Recently, he called all nurses aged 50 to 60 years to train them on new technologies that could help patients. Additionally, since most of them were complaining of eye problems, the manager bought big screen monitors with proper lights and fonts. Another way to make the workplace conducive is by creating flexible opportunities. At the work setting, all the older staff work take day shifts. More so, the manager lets them work only 7 hours for their shift. As well, the manager gives them flexible options since most of the older staffs have families to cater for and others cannot withstand working for longer hours. Moreover, the entire older workforce has top positions and the manager placed them in charge to mentor the younger nurses. On the contrary, one challenge faced by baby boomers at work comes when bonding. During lunch breaks at work, the older employees group themselves together. They find it difficult to bond with the interns and younger nurses aged 20 -29 years. As well, another challenge is downsizing. Some of the younger employees have a bad attitude towards the older workforce. They often compete with them negatively in regards to promotions and rewards.

A myriad of strategies are present to engage and retain the older workforce. The first strategy I would implement is to offer training programs. Tishman, Looy, & Bruyere (2012) articulate that training the older workforce in areas like adapting to new technologies could keep them up-to-date with knowledge and in line with the younger workers. The second approach would be endorsing workplace flexibility. As authors state, opportunities such as flexible schedules, work options, and retirement options could keep the older workforce productive and functional. In fact, the strategy could help baby boomers at my place of work to become more engaged and willing to work. Since many older staffs have personal obligations, creating flexibility could help workers to enjoy working at the facility. Roundtree (2012) asserts that older workers want flexibility. As author explains, access to flexible work options result in engagement, overall quality of life, and employee effectiveness. The third approach would be moving beyond stereotypes by suspending pre-judgment. I would do that by establishing a workplace culture that values diversity and experience of older workers. Burgmann (2013) avows that when managers become aware of the stereotypes, they manage to communicate effectively with the entire staff and it helps to retain the older workers. The fourth strategy would be to implement a phased retirement program. The approach would make the older workforce transition into retirement slowly. In fact, it would make the older staff more engaged by giving them time to decide whether they would return to work full-time.

In summary, Healthcare facilities ought to find ways to retain and accommodate their older workers. Notably, the senior staff needs a flexible workplace, which could keep them more engaged. Many health care centers are likely to lose competent, experienced, and skilled workforce when older staff retire. As the healthcare sector is preparing for an increasingly older workforce, making the workplace comfortable would help to keep the older employees more productive. Overall, nurse managers have to address the issue of the aging workforce by implementing strategies that could help to commit and maintain them.



Beheri, W. H. (2009). Diversity within nursing: Effects on nurse-nurse interaction, job satisfaction, and turnover. Nursing Administration Quarterly, 33(3), 216226.Burgmann, L. (2013). Engaging and Retaining Older Workforce. Australian Institute of

Management. Retrieved from

National Council of State Boards of Nursing. (2015). National Nursing Workforce Study.Retrieved from

Roundtree, L. (2012). Flex Strategies to Attract, Engage, and Retain Older Workers. Central

Baptist Hospital. Executive Case Report No. 5. Retrieved from

Tishman, F. M., Looy, S. V., & Bruyere, S.M. (2012). Employer Strategies for Responding to an

Aging Workforce. The NTAR Leadership Center. Retrieved from



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