The Return To Work Blog

55 and Beyond: Staying In The Game with A Little Help

Posted by Mike Pringle on Mar 16, 2016 8:30:00 AM

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Aging Workforce Statistics

In 2012 20.9% of the United States workforce was aged 55 or older, and estimates project this percentage to increase to 25.6% by 2022 (U.S. Department of Labor, 2014). Older employees continue to be active members in the workforce so they may postpone retirement, maintain income for financial reasons, or simply preserve a productive and social presence. As workers age, a reciprocal relationship develops between experience and knowledge, and physical functioning and cognitive abilities. These life resources typically need to be managed and supported in order to maintain an effective occupational role as employees age.

Leverage Their Experience

Experience and knowledge are resources that have a positive inclination over time. Older workers in many instances become subject matter experts at their jobs through years of experience. A wealth of knowledge is accumulated that is often quite valuable to employers and those less experienced, who look towards seasoned employees for guidance. Physical functioning and cognitive skills naturally tend to decline in older workers that may generate a need for some form of support. Eddy and Law (2014) discuss this resource disparity as an impetus for developing a life management strategy in which older employers will typically need some form of support from their employers so they may stay working.

Employer support may come in a variety of ways from reduced hours, additional help from younger employees with physically demanding tasks, the introduction of various technological systems and job modification to name a few. This is especially true when older workers become injured on the job. Successful recovery from an industrial injury depends on a number of factors. The severity of an injury, the timeliness of medical care, the quality of medical care, and the age of the injured employee as well as other variables impact injury recovery.

Be Proactive To Ensure They Stay At Work

In many instances injured employees will need their work place assessed and modified by vocational ergonomic professionals that have the expertise in molding an existing job task so that an older worker can stay at their job. These professionals ultimately aid the employee and the employer in developing a strategy for dealing with a resource loss; in many cases, some form of physical impairment.

Within the context of workers’ compensation, a return to work professional like those at Windham Group can help develop resource strategies that benefit the employee and the employer. In the end the employee is able stay productive and the employer retains an experienced worker.


Ng, E. S., & Law, A. (2014). Keeping up! older workers’ adaptation in the workplace after age 55. Canadian Journal of Aging, 33, 1-14. doi: 10.1017/S07149808130000639

U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, The Economics Daily. (2014). Share of labor force projected to rise for people age 55 and over and fall for younger age groups. Available at opub /ted / 2014/ted_20140124.htm

Topics: Aging Workforce

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