Future-proof your business - How to address injury risks and embrace an ageing workforce.
This article first appeared in the OHS Leaders Summit Digest (December 2016).
Click here to download a .pdf version.
The idea that many Australians will continue to work well beyond their 50s and 60s – through necessity or choice – is commonly accepted. Due to a combination of factors, including financial uncertainty, one in five Australians aged over 45 have said they won’t retire before 70.
And yet the implications of an ageing workforce – including opportunities and potential risks – is something most employers are still grappling with.
From a talent shortage perspective, older workers can present a viable solution to filling critical roles. In fact, with a rapidly ageing population and over 65s projected to increase in numbers from 3.5 million to 5.8 million over the next 15 years, it has been suggested that tapping into an older workforce could deliver gains of $78 billion to the Australian economy through increased GDP. On the flipside, such gains will only be realised if ageing employees are kept safe and productive.
As employees age, working with strain in their body leads to increased fatigue, higher incidence of injury, greater absenteeism and even potential related impacts on mental health.
Addressing physical resilience is key. Working with pain and strain does not need to be the reality of an ageing workforce. Yet, discussions about the issues associated with an ageing workforce too often ignore how reducing strain can increase productivity and lower injuries.
THE OUTLOOK FOR YOUR WORKFORCE
Businesses are noticing an increase in workers struggling to come to terms with weakening physical abilities as they age, leading to anxiety, stress and deteriorating quality of life.
Move 4 Life’s data shows that workers aged over 45 years old have a 38% higher risk of sprain and strain injury, and Safe Work Australia confirms that musculoskeletal disorders have been stuck at 60% of all serious claims for 15 years! No progress has been made on this issue over the last decade! [download Strain Index Infographic here]
Additionally, 20% of workers admit that they take shortcuts at work which cause aches, strain and pain. This is leading to declining productivity and a higher rate of claims.
One major Australian manufacturing organisation noted that they have a 300% higher rate of claims among workers over 45 years old – with low employee turnover and the current average age of employees at 43 years, they are facing “a potential tsunami of claims”.
THE FORGOTTEN RISK: Desk-bound occupations
While most sprain and strain injuries are associated with trades-based and physical work involving manual handling, businesses need to realise that desk bound occupations are prone to serious health impacts of a sedentary lifestyle. There’s truth in the saying “sitting is the new smoking” – there is a direct correlation between sedentary roles and negative physical and mental health outcomes.
PLAYING AN ACTIVE ROLE IN INCREASING PRODUCTIVITY & REDUCING CLAIMS
While most people are aware of the benefits associated with an improved diet, increased exercise, and quitting smoking; not as many realise the impact that small changes to the way they move and perform activities at work can have on overall health and wellbeing.
The good news is that it is possible to help employees reduce ache, strain and pain at work, even as they age.
To do this, businesses need to adopt new and engageing ways to future-proof their ageing workforce as well as confront the more common and predictable sprain and strain injuries. The secret to success? Allowing employees to select and adopt what works for them.
“Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand”
To truly future-proof your business against an increasing number of claims you need to involve your employees in the learning process – relying on a PowerPoint presentation or handing down a set of rules just won’t cut it.
Rather than deliver a one-off piece of training, the Move 4 Life SYSTEM involves employees in a comprehensive, sustainable and transferrable program.
Move 4 Life is the benchmark in preventing workplace sprains and strains. It can dramatically cut injuries and build productivity through reduced fatigue and lower absenteeism.
It builds physical resilience in workers of all ages.
Instead of claiming to teach the “right way” to move or perform a task, Move 4 Life recognises that people will change their behaviour if they are motivated to make a decision for themselves, based on how their own body feels. The key is providing options for reducing their ache, strain and pain, and allowing them to choose what feels right for them.
For more than a decade Move 4 Life has been helping customers in this way – cutting injuries and related costs by up to 50%.
EVIDENCE-BASED: Using leading science in participatory ergonomics and precision medicine
Move 4 Life works for all employees – young and old – because it:
- treats people as adults and allows them to make their own choices about moving safely;
- provides options for safe movement; not a set of rules, and
- engages people in a different training approach – no PowerPoint, desks or paper.
Leading indicators such as the STRAIN INDEX allows employees and organisations to efficiently measure the risk of future injury, as well as changes in that risk over time – removing the need to wait months or years to measure the effectiveness of training through lagging indicators.
A BRIGHTER FUTURE FOR WORKERS
Move 4 Life provides genuine injury prevention. It helps employees avoid becoming another sprain and strain statistic through increasing their physical resilience; and it creates real business impact for employers.
While improving mental resilience is critical, by ensuring your employees are more physically resilient, you will increase engagement and productivity, while lowering fatigue and, ultimately, costs associated with claims.
There are customer stories and short clips of feedback from people who’s lives have been changed by Move 4 Life can be found on our YouTube Channel here.