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The Silent Resilience of Older Workers: A Conversation with Assistant Professor Glykeria Skamagki, University of Birmingham on Musculoskeletal Disorders, and Diversity and Inclusion for a Multi-Generational Workforce.

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Glykeria Skamagki

 

Glykeria is attending the 23rd World Congress to share her research on sustainable employability focusing on the ageing workforce, women, and those with chronic musculoskeletal disorders. “The ageing workforce is a global phenomenon, and with it comes a unique set of challenges” Glykeria states. “As people age, the prevalence of CMSDs increases, and these conditions often come with non-visible symptoms and flare-ups that can significantly impact on an individual’s ability to work.” She also notes that there has also been an observed trend in retirees returning to the workforce, which further emphasises the need to address the health and ergonomic needs of older workers. 

Glykeria’s work at the University of Birmingham is “focused on ensuring that older employees can contribute to the workplace effectively, without compromising their well-being.” Her aim is to expand on her PhD work and continue creating a bridge between the demands of modern workplaces and the health requirements of older employees. “I’m focused on ensuring that older employees can contribute to the workplace effectively, without compromising their well-being.” 

“Many older employers are hesitant to report CMSDs or ask for workplace accommodations, often due to fears of discrimination or being perceived as less capable.” She notes that this silent endurance is both admirable and concerning and is connected to another striking finding, ‘leaveism’. “This is where the employees use annual leave to manage health flare-ups instead of taking sick leave.” Glykeria believes this behaviour underscores the dedication of older workers, but this dedication is not all positive. “It highlights the pressures they face, and the potential gaps in workplace policies that do not adequately address their needs.” 

Discussing what positive changes are required for older workers, it is not a one-size-fits-all approach. “Empathy is paramount,” Glykeria says. “Understanding the unique challenges faced by older workers is the first step in effecting meaningful change, and realising this isn’t just about policy, it’s about creating a culture where older workers feel valued, understood and supported.” “Additionally, open communication is vital.” Glykeria explains. “Older workers should feel comfortable discussing their health needs without fear of repercussions. By fostering an environment of trust and support, we can ensure that interventions are effective and tailored to the individual’s needs.” 

She also notes that there are groups within the ageing workforce who require more attention. “Whilst all older workers have unique needs, certain groups require more tailored attention.” Glykeria notes that “workers with chronic inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis can have specific workplace implications due to flare-ups and the individual nature of their conditions.” And for older women in the workplace? “They need to navigate challenges like menopause or balancing work with caregiving responsibilities.” 

As a speaker at the 23rd World Congress, Glykeria Skamagki is ready to demonstrate to delegates the importance of a proactive approach to OSH and the benefits of creating an inclusive work environment. “I want them to understand that addressing the needs of older workers isn’t just a matter of compliance or ticking boxes; it’s about harnessing the potential of a significant segment of the workforce and ensuring their well-being.”  

Reflecting on the modern workforce, “it’s unique in that it comprises of up to five generations working side by side, with each generation bringing its own strengths and challenges to the workplace.”  

And as a speaker at the Bridging the generational divide: tailored OSH strategies for an inclusive workforce symposium on Thursday 30 November, Glykeria wants to hear from diverse voices. “I’m interested in hearing diverse perspectives and innovative strategies being employed worldwide to address generational challenges.” She notes that the programme is an exciting opportunity for cross-cultural and interdisciplinary exchange. “The World Congress brings together experts from backgrounds and regions, offering a unique platform for learning and collaboration. I chose to participate because I believe in the power of shared knowledge. By presenting my research and engaging in discussions, I hope to both contribute to and benefit from the OSH global community.” 

As Glykeria Skamagki has highlighted in this conversation, bridging the generational divide requires tailored OSH strategies, and the World Congress is your opportunity to gain experience and connect with emerging OSH leaders like Glykeria. With delegates from 127 countries, this is an OSH opportunity you do not want to miss. On demand tickets are available now. 

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