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Adapting to age diversity in the workforce

In Louisiana and around the country, more and more people are putting off retirement. The Pew Research Center has found that the workforce percentage of Americans 65 and older who work full- or part-time increased from 12.8 percent in May 2000 to 18.8 percent in May 2016. This has led to greater age diversity in the workplace, especially in the construction industry and other fields involving manual labor.

To adapt to the needs of both older and younger employees, employers are encouraged to do several things. First, they should bridge the communication gap by bringing together employees for group activities. Second, they should regularly check in on elderly employees and assign new tasks when current ones are becoming too strenuous.

Thirdly, employers should introduce the older workers to new technology. A 2013 Pew Research Center survey showed that among older adults who use the internet, 71 percent claimed to go online every day. Familiarity often leads to an embracing of technology.

Most importantly, safety training in the construction industry should take into account the diverse learning styles that each generation is used to. Older workers tend to be more comfortable with rote, one-directional learning, while younger workers may learn better from interactive, microlearning-based methods. However, safety professionals understand that in reality, companies may not have the time or resources to personalize their safety training.

In the event of a workplace accident, the victim could file for workers' compensation benefits. The acceptance of benefits will waive his or her right to a civil lawsuit, but a lawyer might recommend a lawsuit in the first place if there is evidence of gross negligence on the employer's part.

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