Employee BenefitsTailored BenefitsEmployee Benefits for Older Workers in Canada

Employee Benefits for Older Workers in Canada

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Canada is undergoing a major demographic shift as the baby boomer generation transitions into their senior years. This has significant implications for employers, who stand to lose valuable skills, experience and expertise as older workers begin retiring from the labour force.

However, businesses can retain and recruit experienced older talent with strategic benefits, accommodations and inclusive policies.

This comprehensive guide will examine the following aspects of managing an aging workforce:

  • Current statistics and projections on Canada’s older workforce
  • The benefits of retaining and hiring older workers
  • Common misconceptions about older employees
  • Employee benefits for older workers in Canada
  • Fostering an age-inclusive work culture and environment
  • Adapting physical workspaces for accessibility and safety
  • Consulting older workers to understand their needs
  • Case studies and examples of companies supporting older employees

By the end of this guide, Canadian employers will understand the importance of supporting older workers and gain actionable strategies to adapt their benefits, policies and workplaces. Investing in an aging workforce now will provide a competitive advantage in the coming decades.

The Growth of Older Workers in Canada

Canada’s population and workforce are aging rapidly. Several key statistics illustrate this demographic transformation:

  • In 2011, the number of Canadians age 65 was increased 14.1% to nearly 5 milions when compare 2006 (Source)
  • By 2036, 23-25% of the population is projected to be over 65 (Source)
  • In 2016, 36% of Canada’s labour force was aged 55 and over (Source)
  • The participation rate of workers age 55+ increased from 24% in 1996 to 38% in 2016 (Source)

The following sample table shows the projected growth of key older age groups in the workforce over the next decade:

Age Group20162026Growth
55-642.9 million3.9 million+34%
65-741.6 million2.6 million+63%
75+0.5 million0.9 million+80%

This dramatic demographic shift is driven by factors such as longer life expectancies, pension changes enabling work while collecting retirement income, economic needs, and a desire to stay active and engaged.

The result is that employers must adapt quickly to support, retain and recruit experienced older talent. Those who fail to do so risk losing core organizational knowledge and competitive advantage.

The Benefits of an Older Workforce

There are many advantages to employing and retaining older adults versus relying solely on younger talent:

Experience and Expertise

Older employees have accumulated years of hands-on experience and problem-solving skills. This translates to mastery of institutional knowledge and specialized technical expertise that is extremely valuable.

Mentorship

Long-tenured employees can provide invaluable mentorship and knowledge transfer to younger workers, ensuring skills are passed on.

Stability and Commitment

On average, older employees demonstrate greater loyalty and commitment than younger cohorts, who tend to switch jobs more frequently. This reduces hiring and training costs.

Professionalism and Reliability

Older workers are perceived as highly reliable, professional and adept at working independently with minimal supervision.

Diversity

Age diversity leads to a richer exchange of perspectives, attitudes and ideas. Multigenerational teams solve problems more creatively.

Customer Service Skills

Older adults tend to have well-developed rapport-building and customer service skills from years of professional experience.

Networks

Many older people have well-established professional and community networks, which are advantageous for business development.

In summary, the unique value of older workers makes it well worth adapting workplaces to retain them. Next, we’ll explore some common misconceptions that can act as barriers.

Common Misconceptions About Older Workers

Despite their tremendous assets, older adults face harmful stereotypes and assumptions that can limit their job opportunities and organizational inclusion. Common myths include:

Myth: Less Productive

Reality: Physical strength and endurance decline with age, but mental sharpness does not. Older employees benefit from years of accumulated job knowledge and experience in their fields, making them highly productive in roles matching their skills.

Myth: Quick to Retire

Reality: More older adults are delaying full retirement or continuing to work part-time. Surveys consistently show the majority of older Canadians would stay employed if they had options like reduced hours or collecting pension plus income.

Myth: Not Worth Investing In

Reality: Contrary to past beliefs that older workers will retire before employers recoup training investments, today’s rapid skills development cycles mean investments pay off more quickly across all age groups.

Myth: Resistant to Training

Reality: Studies show baby boomers actually prefer challenging jobs where they can expand their skills and knowledge.

Myth: Tech Averse and Unwilling to Learn New Skills

Reality: While it can take older adults longer to absorb new technologies, most are eager to upgrade their digital fluency and maintain relevant skills. A 2017 survey showed that 79% of Canadian boomer workers said learning new skills is essential. (Source)

Myth: Uninterested in Development or Advancement

Reality: Many older employees seek encore careers that let them develop new capabilities or make a social contribution. Providing training and mentorship around new roles demonstrates investment in their continued growth.

The takeaway is that assumptions about older workers’ abilities, attitudes and ambitions are often outdated and unfounded. Valuing experience, contribution, and an inclusive culture is key to overcoming misconceptions.

Key Employee Benefits for Older Workers in Canada

Key Employee Benefits for Older Workers in Canada
Key Employee Benefits for Older Workers in Canada

To attract and retain experienced older talent, employers should tailor employee benefits for older workers, accommodations and flexible arrangements to meet their needs and preferences:

Comprehensive Healthcare Coverage

As employees age, their healthcare needs increase. Comprehensive employee benefits for older workers plans should provide for regular preventative check-ups, tests, prescription drugs, and expedited access to specialists without delays for approvals. This provides essential financial and practical support.

Wellness Programs

Investing in older employees’ physical and mental health has proven returns in terms of engagement and reduced absenteeism. Popular employee benefits for older workers include on-site gyms and fitness classes, stress management workshops, health screenings, nutrition guidance, mindfulness training, employee assistance programs, social activities and more.

Flexible Work Arrangements

Studies consistently show flexible work options are highly valued by older employees. This allows them to attend medical appointments, care for loved ones, accommodate mobility limitations and achieve more excellent work-life balance. Popular options include:

  • Telecommuting
  • Reduced hours or condensed schedules
  • Job sharing and split shifts
  • Phased retirement with gradually reduced responsibilities
  • Unpaid leave to handle health or family obligations

A survey of older Canadian workers found the most desired flexible arrangements were:

  • Part-time roles: 47%
  • Collecting pension while working: 38%
  • Working from home: 35%

Source: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/corporate/seniors/forum/older-worker-participation.html

Extended Healthcare Benefits

Traditionally, many health and dental benefits ended at age 65 when government plans took effect. Expanding coverage beyond retirement demonstrates investment in employees’ well-being and makes positions more attractive to older applicants.

Retirement Planning Support

Providing retirement planning resources helps older employees navigate their eventual transition from the workplace. This can include retirement readiness workshops, personal finance counselling, pension optimization advice, transition coaching and pre-retirement “test runs” of reduced schedules.

Training and Development

Investing in continuous skills development ensures older employees contribute at high levels in evolving roles. Training on new technologies and industry practices is especially valued. Mentorship programs also let veterans pass on specialized knowledge before retiring.

Caregiver Support

Many older workers act as caregivers for spouses, parents, partners or other relatives. Providing counseling, support groups, resource referrals and temporary leave helps alleviate resultant stress and enables them to remain focused at work.

Phased Retirement

Allowing a gradual transition from full-time to partial retirement retains hard-to-replace expertise. This lets older employees shift to part-time hours, mentor successors, take on project work or teaching roles, and wrap up key initiatives before ending their careers.

Ergonomic Accommodations

Assess older employees’ workspace needs and provide customized ergonomic aids like supportive chairs, adjustable desks, keyboard trays, monitor risers and specialized mice or keyboards to allow continued comfort and effectiveness.

Financial Incentives

Some employers offer enhanced pension contributions or other financial rewards to incentivize delayed retirement. Others allow partial pension collection while working reduced hours. Unique savings programs, like Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), provide additional retirement funds.

This mix of health, wellness, flexible work, phased retirement, training, caregiver, and financial benefits provides older workers with essential support across all life stages. Small and mid-sized employers can consider pooling resources to offer benefits consortiums.

Fostering an Age-Inclusive Work Culture and Environment

Employee benefits for older workers are only one part of the equation. Building an age-positive organizational culture where older adults feel welcomed, valued and heard is equally important. Key strategies include:

Make Diversity and Inclusion a Priority

Leadership must emphasize age diversity as a core value and priority across the company. Make it clear that ageist remarks, assumptions and discrimination will not be tolerated. Lead by example.

Provide Unconscious Bias Training

All managers and employees are required to complete training on unconscious biases, microaggressions, and age stereotypes. Teach strategies to identify and challenge assumptions about older workers’ abilities, technical skills, energy levels, flexibility, and capacity to learn.

Encourage Multigenerational Collaboration

Facilitate partnerships, project teams, committees and mentorships that blend younger and older workers. This builds intergenerational understanding and leverages their complementary strengths.

Ask for Input and Feedback

Create formal and informal mechanisms, such as surveys, focus groups, and suggestion boxes, to solicit older employees’ honest input on desired workplace changes, benefits, and cultural improvements. Then, act on this feedback.

Offer Ongoing Training

Provide continuous learning for employees of all ages – don’t assume older workers won’t be interested. Tie training to expanded opportunities to leverage expertise in new roles.

Accommodate Health Limitations

Be flexible around schedules, workloads and arrangements to accommodate older employees’ health conditions and medical needs. This promotes inclusion.

Recognize Loyalty and Expertise

Look for opportunities – in company events, newsletters, intranet features, etc. – to celebrate veteran employees’ accomplishments, highlight their expertise, and acknowledge their commitment to the organization.

By giving older workers an equal voice and visibly valuing their contributions, companies can overcome outdated biases and create a work environment where all generations thrive.

Adapting Physical Workspaces for Older Employees

As employees age, their mobility, vision, hearing and stamina changes. Employers should optimize office and workspace design for accessibility, safety and ergonomic support. Key age-friendly adaptations include:

Accessibility Features

  • Install automatic doors, ramps, railings and non-slip flooring
  • Ensure hallways and doorways accommodate wheelchairs and scooters
  • Provide accessible and clearly marked washrooms, elevators and exits
  • Install seating areas and rest spaces for short breaks
  • Use large illuminated signs with directional, safety and exit information

Ergonomic Assessments

Have occupational therapists assess older workers’ needs and recommend customized chairs, desks, keyboard trays, monitor mounts, and other ergonomic equipment to allow continued comfort and effectiveness.

Supportive Technologies

Provide assistive devices tailored to employees’ needs like:

  • Large monitors, magnifying screens, and screen readers for the visually impaired
  • Noise-cancelling headsets and amplified phone systems for hearing loss
  • Voice recognition software for reduced typing
  • Ergonomic keyboards and mice to ease arthritis

Non-Slip Flooring and Improved Lighting

To optimize safe mobility, install non-slip, non-glare flooring, add handrails in hallways, and ensure consistent bright lighting without shadows or glare.

Designated Rest Areas

Provide comfortable spaces where employees can take short sensory breaks to boost mental stamina and focus. This supports productivity.

Workplace design optimizations like these demonstrate an inclusive commitment to supporting employees across the lifespan.

How can employers understand older workers’ needs?

The best way to understand the needs of older workers is to solicit their direct input. Tactics can include:

Surveys

Conduct anonymous surveys to gain candid insights on older employees’ benefits priorities, desired accommodations, concerns, and retirement plans. Track changes over time.

Focus Groups

Assemble small groups of older workers across departments for guided discussions about challenges they face and workplace improvements they desire.

Advisory Councils

Create a council of older employees to provide perspective and ideas on benefits, policies and programs to support the aging workforce. Ensure they have influence.

Stay Interviews

Hold regular one-on-one interviews focused on older employees’ satisfaction, future plans, and resolution issues. This provides an early heads-up on potential retirements.

Exit Interviews

Ask detailed questions about why departing older employees are retiring and what could have extended their tenure or improved their work experience. Identify actionable patterns.

In addition to these formal mechanisms, leaders should have an open-door policy and encourage informal mentoring relationships. The goal is to foster continuous dialogue and respond with impactful changes.

Examples of companies providing employee benefits for older workers

Examples of companies providing employee benefits for older workers
Examples of companies providing employee benefits for older workers

Let’s explore some real-world examples of Canadian employers who have created inclusive cultures and supportive employee benefits for older workers:

Canada Post

With nearly half its workforce over 50, Canada Post needs to retain experienced talent. The company now offers comprehensive health benefits with retirement-focused features like long-term care insurance. Free financial planning guidance is provided. Ergonomic tools, job rotations and modified tasks help aging workers stay active.

YMCAs of Quebec

This non-profit wanted to retain older fitness workers who play a key training role. They now provide paid sabbaticals, phased retirement programs, flexible schedules, adapted tasks, and workshops on achieving life balance. Trainers can access part-time roles as mentors.

TELUS

Recognizing an aging workforce risk, TELUS offers extensive group health benefits tailored to older workers’ needs. Their “Healthy Living” program provides tools to improve physical and mental well-being. Older engineers are supported in adapting to new technologies. Flexible benefit plans, phased retirement, and compressed schedules accommodate aging workers.

Home Depot Canada

This retailer leverages older workers’ expertise while supporting their needs. Employee benefits for older workers include customized retirement planning and health insurance enhancements. Modified roles allow continued contribution by those with health limitations. Remote work policies and flexible shifts support work-life balance.

McDonald’s Canada

Many restaurant workers are older adults seeking part-time roles with flexibility. McDonald’s provides enhanced vacation time, retirement savings plans, and health benefits like vision care and dental care insurance tailored to senior needs. Workloads can be adjusted to accommodate functional capacity changes.

As these examples demonstrate, organizations that tailor benefits, foster inclusion, and adapt roles for aging workers gain a competitive advantage in leveraging their experience and expertise.

Conclusion

As Canada’s population and labour force age, supporting and retaining older workers is a business imperative. Companies that invest in tailored benefits, flexible work arrangements, inclusive culture, adapted workplaces, and phased retirement will thrive in the coming decade.

With the right corporate strategies, the expertise of older employees can be retained and amplified to maintain competitive advantage. Hiring age-diverse teams provides even more benefits through multidirectional mentorship.

By overcoming misconceptions and making adaptations, employers can optimize the assets of Canada’s older workforce while supporting well-being.

Each generation has different needs for benefits. Boomers want part-time work and good healthcare. Gen X needs childcare, tuition help, and flexibility. Millennials and Gen Z want PTO, remote work, development stipends, and student loan help. They value experiences and purpose. To get good people, benefits should match what each generation wants. Some of the employee benefits for tailored needs in Canada include:

FAQs on employee benefits for older workers in Canada

How can Canadian employers attract and retain older workers?

Canadian employers can attract and retain older workers by offering benefits tailored to their needs, such as comprehensive healthcare, wellness programs, flexible work arrangements, phased retirement, and training opportunities. Showcasing roles that leverage experience and providing an age-inclusive work culture are also effective strategies.

What healthcare benefits do older employees need in Canada?

Older employees in Canada need robust healthcare coverage that provides for regular checkups, tests, prescription medications, and expedited access to specialists without delays or convoluted approvals. These benefits should continue past standard retirement age.

What flexible work options do older employees want in Canada?

Surveys show the most desired flexible arrangements for older Canadian employees are part-time roles (47%), collecting pension while working (38%), and working from home (35%). Other popular options are job sharing, compressed schedules, phased retirement, and unpaid leave.

How can employers provide an age-inclusive work culture in Canada?

Employers can foster an age-inclusive culture by prioritizing diversity, providing unconscious bias training, facilitating multigenerational collaboration, seeking older workers' input, offering continuous training, making reasonable accommodations, and recognizing veteran employees' contributions.

Why is retaining older workers important for Canadian businesses?

Retaining older workers is crucial for Canadian businesses to maintain valued expertise and institutional knowledge. With an aging workforce, failure to adapt will result in skilled labour shortages. Older workers also provide mentorship and stability.

What misconceptions about older workers persist in Canada?

Common misconceptions are that older workers are less productive, technologically challenged, disinterested in learning, quick to retire, and not worth investing in. In reality, most older employees are reliable, eager to upgrade skills, and wish to remain employed.

Where can employers find candidates among older workers in Canada?

Smart recruiting tactics include posting on 50+ job boards, contacting retiree associations, using word-of-mouth referrals, rehiring past employees, and emphasizing opportunities to leverage experience in job postings.

What age-friendly workplace adaptations help older employees?

Useful adaptations include providing ergonomic equipment, installing non-slip floors and better lighting, offering assistive technologies, creating easily accessible spaces and rest areas, and conducting ergonomic assessments.

How can employers transition older workers into retirement?

Effective strategies are phased retirement with gradually reduced hours, allowing work while collecting pensions, mentoring successors before retiring fully, project-based work, and providing retirement planning resources and financial counseling.

Do older workers want training and development opportunities in Canada?

Absolutely. Surveys show 79% of boomer workers want continuous training to upgrade skills, and 38% participate in employer-supported training. Development shows employers are invested in older employees' continued growth and evolving roles.

Article Sources

At Ebsource, our mission is to provide Canadians with comprehensive and honest information to help them make sound choices about employee benefits and human resources. We tap into the expertise of seasoned financial professionals to ensure our guidance aligns with industry best practices. The statistics we cite come from reputable government and industry sources like Statistics Canada and the CLHIA to guarantee accuracy.

Our recommendations stem from thorough, unbiased research of the major employee benefits providers in Canada. This allows us to offer advice tailored to individuals’ specific budgets and needs. Ebsource upholds high standards of objectivity, transparency, and independence in all our content. We take pride in producing insights readers can trust by referencing credible sources and adhering to editorial principles. As Canada’s most dependable outlet for employee benefits news and HR insights, we are dedicated to empowering Canadians to make informed benefits decisions.

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