Tuesday, September 07, 2010

BMW, the "Silver Tsunami" and increased productivity: Positive Ageism

Thanks to Ed Canter for bringing this story to my attention.

BMW in Dingolfing, Germany employ 18,000 workers and due to the "Silver Tsunami" (aging babyboomers) many are getting older. More than a fifth of Germany (21.6%) will be over 65 by the year 2020. Older workers however have more patience and skill but according to research less flexibility, strength and vision. All these characteristics are required of a semi skilled workforce and rather than replace the aging workers BMW have decided to improve working conditions to accommodate. One of the main complaints of the people working on the assembly line was sore feet so the company put in a wooden floor, issued the workers modified the assembly line to allow more workers to sit on rolling stools. Other changes among the 70 made included bigger computer screens in an endeavour to reduce the chance of errors and obviate physical strain. Since the new assembly line has been in operation productivity has risen seven percent, absenteeism fell below the plant's average and the assembly line's defect rate dropped to zero.

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