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Redefining the Inclusive Workplace: The Graying Effect

The "graying" effect. It's a significant human capital issue that is prompting America's employers to rethink the way they approach age and work. Every day, more and more workers turn age 65, but instead of retiring, many are choosing to stay on the job longer due to economic considerations and shifting expectations about retirement.

This is good news for employee retention. However, many of these skilled, experienced workers will develop disabilities as they age, or existing disabilities will affect them more. So to retain their talents and maintain productivity, employers are learning to implement a variety of inclusive workplace practices, most of which benefit all workers.

So called "older workers" may not realize that disability policies apply to them, but they know that they need or want to work. They also know what tools they need to do their jobs — whether it be a computer screen magnifier, an ergonomic chair or a flexible schedule to accommodate medical appointments. Similarly, employers may not be thinking about their talent management strategies as disability management responsibilities, but they're probably using similar strategies to retain valued workers with and without disabilities and ensure they are productive.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy offers a range of resources related to older workers as well as practices to help retain them, such as flexible work arrangements and accommodations. Such inclusive practices enhance corporate continuity efforts. What's more, they foster innovation by adding age-diverse perspectives when confronting business challenges to achieve success.

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