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Video: BMW plans for tomorrow's older workforce today

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Video: BMW plans for tomorrow's older workforce today

by Jeff Glucker (RSS feed) on Sep 9th 2010 at 9:57AM

BMW making smart changes for their aging workers – Click above to watch the video after the jump

Unless you're a tween vampire or the cyborg known as Joan Rivers, you are going to age. BMW understands that as people get older they may not be able to put in the same level of work they once could. It's not just BMW employees that are fighting father time, but the entire work force is inching toward the age of AARP eligibility. In Germany, more than a fifth of the country will be over 65 by the year 2020.

BMW has found its older workforce has a greater level of patience and overall skill, compared to the young Teutonic bucks running around the assembly line. The increased patience runs against a decline in strength, vision and flexibility. That is not a good combination for people required to perform precision tasks. Rather than simply ignoring the needs of their older workers, BMW has found a way to work with them.

Managers at one particular assembly plant switched workers around so that one line was staffed with an older crew. In seven years, the average age for a BMW employee is projected to be 47, inspiring the re-arranged shift.

The result? Productivity went up seven percent, absenteeism fell below the plant average and the defect rate for the line dropped to zero. Sounds amazing, but it was surprisingly easy to accomplish. BMW asked these workers what they needed to be more comfortable on the job, then actually listened to the answers. For example, if a worker mentioned that their feet hurt, BMW supplied them with special shoes and installed wooden floors. If another worker needed a place to sit, they installed a modified hairdresser's chair out of a Z4 so the employee was comfortable but still able to perform. In total, BMW says they made 70 small changes and the whole project only cost them $50,000.

Take a look at the how BMW is making their work environment and watch the video after the jump.



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