Celebrating National Employ Older Workers Week 2023

a group of older workers smiling for the camera

September 24-30, 2023, is National Employ Older Workers Week. This week recognizes the value that older workers bring to the workforce. The number of individuals working past the age of 55 is currently at a historic high. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that between 2021 and 2031 the number of workers ages 55 years and older will increase by an estimated 10.2% to almost 41.5 million workers.1

With an estimated 10,000 adults turning 65 every day2, retaining and recruiting older workers will become increasingly important in addressing labor shortages.

Benefits of Employing Older Workers

There are many benefits to businesses that employ older workers.  Older workers have3:

  • Experience and knowledge
  • Lower rates of turnover
  • Lower rates of workplace injuries
  • A strong work ethic and dedication to their job
  • The ability to serve as mentors for younger workers

Older workers benefit from employment through having4:

  • Their financial needs met
  • Regular social interactions
  • Mental stimulation
  • A sense of purpose and contributing to society
  • Continued professional growth

Strategies for Making the Workplace More Age Inclusive

A popular model of aging, the Work Ability Model5, proposes areas for making a workplace more age inclusive. The areas are listed below, with examples of what an employer can do to create an age-inclusive workplace.

  • Physical work environment
    • Minimize the risk of musculoskeletal disorders with a workplace ergonomic program
    • Improve hygiene to prevent exposure to hazardous substances
    • Reduce the risk of falling
    • Reduce prolonged physical exertion
    • Ensure the work area is well lit
    • Reduce noise exposures
  • Individual health resources
    • Support managing chronic health conditions
    • Promote healthy behaviors
    • Provide health education and screening
    • Implement return to work programs following an injury
  • Organization of work
    • Implement workplace flexibility programs such as remote work and phased retirement
    • Design the job to better match the needs and abilities of older workers
    • Train supervisors to address age-related biases and stereotypes
    • Manage working hours and shift work
  • Professional development
    • Use training methods supportive of older workers
    • Provide training about the use of technology and new work methods
    • Allow for lifelong learning opportunities
    • Implement mentoring programs

Creating an age-inclusive workplace does not need to be complicated or expensive to be successful. Directly involve workers to establish buy-in, and carefully plan and manage support to build acceptance of the program throughout the organization.

As we celebrate the role of older workers during National Employ Older Workers Week, consider that developing an age-inclusive workplace is important for everyone. Many of these workplace prevention strategies, like reducing slip hazards and greater workplace flexibility, can benefit all workers.

Learn More on Productive Aging, Work Research and Activities at CDC


1 Dubina, K. S., Kim, J-L., Colato, J., & Rieley, M. J. (November 2022). Projections overview and highlights, 2021-31. Monthly Labor Review, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. https://doi.org/10.21916/mlr.2022.28 Source Data/Download Excel 3/ Table 3.1

2 Special Committee on Aging, United States Senate (December 2017). America’s aging workforce: Opportunities and challenges. Retrieved from https://www.aging.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Aging%20Workforce%20Report%20FINAL.pdf.

3 Grosch, J. W., Hecker, S., Scott, K. & Scholl, J. C. (2019). Productive aging and work. In H. L. Hudson, J. A. S. Nigam, S. L. Sauter, L. C. Chosewood, A. L. Schill, & J. Howard (Eds.), Total Worker Health (pp. 229-266). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

4 AARP (2014). Staying ahead of the curve 2013: The AARP work and career study. https://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/research/surveys_statistics/general/2014/Staying-Ahead-of-the-Curve-2013-The-Work-and-Career-Study-AARP-res-gen.pdf.

5 Ilmarinen, J. (2009). Aging and work: An international perspective. In S. J. Czaja & J. Sharit (Eds.), Aging and work: Issues and implications in a changing landscape (pp. 51-73). Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press.