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Many Hospitals 'Get' What Older Workers Want

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, November 7, 2011

Both Saint Barnabas and Bon Secours also allow senior staff to keep their health insurance plans even as they reduce hours. "We offer a program where people can work part-time, get full-time benefits, and when the census spikes they are the first people we go to put in additional hours. It's a way for people to phase into retirement," Seligman says.

As workers grow older, Seligman says, the physical demands of the job become even more challenging. Nurses are sometimes on their feet for 12 hours. "The desire to retire is there, although the fear that one is unable to retire is there and we try to deal with those concerns as well with financial planning," he says.

Every day about 10,000 baby boomers turn 65. What does that portend for the future of the workforce across all industries? We often hear about what healthcare HR can learn from other industries. When the topic is retaining older workers, however, Shelor says other industries need to learn from healthcare HR.

"Healthcare HR was on the forefront because of a definitive need early, and that is the shortage of nurses. But every industry needs to take advantage and promote and support older workers," she says.

"Other industries, if they have not, need to wake up and realize that they have to respond with flexibility to the needs of the older workers," Shelor says. "Not only are they able to keep workers in the workforce and reduce their vacancy rate, also, they get the advantage of the wisdom and history that older workers have."


John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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