Strategies for an aging workforce   

July 21, 2023
Ian Turmeau

Operating Partner

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What are the driving factors? 

Recently published 2022 statistics show that the average age of workers in manufacturing, supply chain and warehousing in the UK is 42.6, and the proportion of workers that are aged 50 and over has increased and is running at 37% with workers over 65 having increased by 60% since 2000. 

A UK food manufacturer recently revealed during a visit that for the current financial year they have over 50% turnover in staff and a warehousing organisation said that they have over 80% turnover in staff. 

Despite all of these negativities, UK industry is thriving and the number of jobs in manufacturing, supply chain and warehousing has grown in most UK regions since 2021, highlighting the importance of the sectors. 

Clearly the age and staff turnover trends need to be arrested as there is a real danger that decades of invaluable knowledge and experience is going to be lost as experts move to new opportunities or retire. We have developed strategies which have been deployed by our clients to combat these trends. These strategies include: 

  • New employment models for the older workers enabled through technologies. 
  • Investing in knowledge transfer.  
  • Modernisation of operations. 
  • Automating processes. 


What can we do to reverse the trends? 

A change in mindset from our industry leaders is essential, we work with the leaders to ensure they can achieve value in the form of productivity improvements from any proposed change. There are practical, affordable solutions that we can assist you with to start to proactively address some of the issues described.


New employment models can significantly benefit our older workers through introduction of new flexible working arrangements enabling remote expert working arrangements enabled through technologies. Factory workers can collaborate with their remote experts and interact using digital devices allowing access to and transfer of the expert knowledge. This approach enables them to work longer benefiting the employer and providing astonishing health benefits to the worker such as the maintenance of cognitive and physical activity, the retention of a sense of identity and access to social interaction and support. Overall, creating intrinsic benefits of feeling productive and valued. Alternative employment strategies and contracts can be developed for younger workers that offer more flexible working arrangements and improved career opportunities making this a more attractive proposition for potential candidates. 

Investing in Knowledge transfer 

Older workers are often very pleased and feel valued to be able to pass on their knowledge and experience. We assist clients in doing this through process redesign and improvements and by deploying digital technologies that capture tacit knowledge and assist decision making process based on the current conditions of a machine or process. These processes and technologies improve information for workers enabling consistency and improved decision making.  

In addition, as a team we are determined to play our part in the development of the next generation of workers for these sectors. We pass our knowledge on through our accredited and non-accredited development programmes.  

Modernisation of operations 

We deploy technologies to make the sectors more inviting to younger workers who embrace technologies routinely using it in their daily lives, this improves engagement. These technologies can be used to simplify training and processes providing the ability to quickly reskill and cross train existing staff. Technologies are used to guide staff through processes using visual prompts, multi-lingual spoken commands, and simple intuitive tasking.  

Automating processes 

Automation in today’s industry setting goes way beyond the traditional machine automation and reaches into most disciplines. It is used in tasking where humans, autonomous devices and robots work side-by-side. In clerical roles where robotic process automation (RPA) can be deployed to remove previously tedious data entry tasks. In operations it is used to remove repetition or to minimise physical demands of staff eliminating some of common causes of minor industrial injuries. Considered deployment of technology can enhance productivity but as always only has the right to exist where it eliminates a current limitation. 

Deploying strategies such as these will ensure that our industries remain competitive and continue to flourish for many years to come. We at gunnercooke would be delighted to be invited to assist you in your development. 

Why not contact us, we are able to assemble multidisciplinary teams to resolve a multitude of complex issues facing many organisations and their stakeholders. 

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Our mission is simple: to help Investors, Owners, and Leaders grow and improve their businesses. We offer pragmatic solutions that fit your specific requirements, building a toolkit of practices that support performance improvement and the adoption of change.

We look forward to having a conversation with you!
Should you require further assistance and wish to have a conversation to explore more, contact the author as follows:

Ian Turmeau

Operating Partner

T: 07767 375415


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