Austria — Adapting to an ageing workforce
SONNENTOR, an organic foods distributor committed to sustainability, received partial financing to implement the measures for older workers launched by the Austrian Public Employment Service in 2000. Measures included reduced working hours without affecting pensions and retired employees working limited hours. This helped to retain experience within the company while recognizing and appreciating older workers expertise. SONNENTOR also implemented its own initiatives for older workers. Ergonomic adjustments were made, professional mobility within the company was promoted and, at the request of employees, health promotion coaching was provided. In-house mentors, supported by Trilog and the Qualification Alliance, helped to improve relations among workers of different ages. Results showed a decrease in sickness absence, and the initiative helped SONNENTOR to achieve national Nestor Gold certification (a standard of generation-sensitive labour organisation). Success factors include the strong communication and employee participation, as well as the flexibility of measures. The company initiatives are readily transferable; however, the success was partly the result of specific tailoring to the needs of SONNENTOR.