The Challenge of the Aging Workforce

I am a big fan of CBS Sunday Morning. I finally watched the episode that aired a couple of weeks ago and that program contained a really interesting story about BMW. They have recognized that their workforce is aging and that they may need to make some changes to accommodate older workers. By 2020 16% of the population will be over 65 years of age, so this is a problem common to all US companies.

BMW took one production line and staffed it with people approximately 47 years of age, since they expect their workforce average age to be 47 in 2017. They just talked to the people on the line and asked how the company could make improvements for them. The company purchased custom shoes for everyone on the line and installed wooden floors, since aching feet were a universal complaint. They also added lighted magnifiers for people that were inspecting parts and new computer screens that offer larger type. One man requested a place to “stretch” when he began to feel fatigued, so they built some bars on a nearby wall so he can go over and limber up.

In total, BMW spent a measly $50,000, including lost time. Here’s what they got in return; Absenteeism dropped below the plant average; Productivity increased 7% and defects dropped to ZERO. The program was so successful, that they are expanding it to other production lines and other plants. That’s a great productivity plan for any company.


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: