Updated December 4, 2020

Job Design for Older Workers

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Job Design for Older Workers essay
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In job design, it is necessary to match the job demands with the cognitive ability, sensory, motor ability, and health conditions of the older workers (Sharit & Czaja, 2012). In manual labor jobs, matching between the physical abilities with the job demands is an important element to keep older workers from injury in particular occupations (e.g. agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting) (Stoesz et al., 2020) , and tasks involving heavy lifting, carrying or repetitive motions should be avoided.

Therefore, it’s important to identify the risk factors and adjust or modify tasks according to the physical abilities of older workers(Stoesz et al., 2020). Assistive devices, such as exoskeletons, can be provided to help relieve pressure in older workers(Sharit, 2020). Sharit (2020) proposed that some light industrial jobs which require shorter duration or lighter intensity may be suitable for older people, for example, automotive assembly, food production, consumer electronic manufacturing, garment manufacturing.

With the development of information technology, knowledge-based older workers increase. However, it’s a challenge for them to solve some technical problems or operate equipment, especially operations in remote works (such as sharing the screen, video conferencing, etc.) where few people can help them. Research also older workers may be not suitable for jobs in which information is constantly changing, or novel jobs where need new knowledge for the decline of cognitive ability(Sharit & Czaja, 2012). Therefore, training or retraining is an important way to reduce the gap between older adults and new technologies and improve knowledge of job.

When it comes to working hours and schedules, research showed that long working hours, shifting works and involving tight time constraint jobs are not suitable for older workers(Sharit & Czaja, 2012), and it’s important to provide enough rest time for them.

Whether it’s manual labor jobs or knowledge works, due to the decline of physical functions (such as, joint mobility) of the elderly, when designing jobs, sedentary work,repetitive works and works which require prolonged unusual postures should be avoided(Garg, 1991). Therefore, job tasks should be diversified to avoid the effects on the body of the older workers (Sharit & Czaja, 2012).

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