Expert tips

Fewer older people feel they are able to work until retirement age

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The Swedish Work Environment Authority has looked closely at the work environment of older people and found that the number of people who say they cannot carry on working until retirement age is increasing. In order to reverse this trend, it is important to invest in older employees and take a systematic approach to the work environment.

We are getting healthier, and technological developments enable us to work longer using technical aids. In theory, working life should be set up for an ageing population, but instead the proportion of older people who say they cannot carry on working until retirement age is increasing, according to the Swedish Work Environment Authority's latest report on the work environment of older people.

– Systematic work environment management often makes the common mistake of missing out key steps: we need to investigate, assess risks, take action and follow up. For example, it is incredibly important to evaluate the changes/measures we undertake to find out whether they have produced any results and whether they turned out as we expected. By addressing one risk, we may have created new ones,” says Petrit Krasniqi, Work Environment Engineer at Previa, and he goes on to say:

– If we don’t follow up, evaluate and work systematically on the work environment, it will crack and there is a significant risk that we will not be able to carry on working over the longer term.

Having healthy employees with considerable experience of working life and their own organisation is an asset.

Investment needed to maintain older people's motivation

In its report, the Swedish Work Environment Authority describes the need to be needed, to be useful and to be in demand in order to motivate older employees to continue working. Another important factor is that there should be opportunities for learning and skills development in the workplace, but the report shows that older workers feel they do not receive the same amount of paid training as younger workers.

– It is important to invest in older people as well. Having healthy employees with considerable experience of working life and the organisation is an asset, but also to provide guidance for new entrants into working life.

Petrit Krasniqi also thinks it is important for employers to invest in the health of older employees.

– Do activities that motivate employees, have proper health care in place and involve occupational health services if needed. It is clear that the work environment is often seen as a cost, but it is an investment in the future – both for the organisation and for the individual.

Women stand out in the statistics

The report shows that more women than men felt that they would not be able to carry on working until retirement age. The sector groups that stand out are education, health and social care.

– The sectors where most respondents say they will not be able to carry on are female-dominated occupations and are often physically and mentally demanding. In these areas, it is important for the employer, together with the employee, to review the possibility of including variation and recovery in the work.

As an employer, you can do a lot to ensure that your employees feel well and have a positive and valuable working life. Taking a systematic approach to both the physical and psychosocial work environment is something that benefits companies, individuals and society as a whole.  

– Systematic work environment management should be a natural part of the business and all employees should be involved. The employees are experts at their jobs, they do their jobs every day. Involving employees makes it easier to identify risks because they are actually the experts in their workplaces, says Petrit Krasniqi.