• Sep 9, 2010
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.

[Source: CBS News | Image: Miguel Villagran/Getty]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 25 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Depends on the place. If it was here, the UAW would prevent that; but it would also prevent any shifting around of workers, leaving them in a place where they could only be less and less productive - and the company would have to deal with it, pay for it, and then wonder why they are running budget deficits year after year.
      • 4 Years Ago
      That's easy to do in the US and China. Not so easy in Germany or any other EU country.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Good on them for listening to the individuals. If only we could get every other company in the world to do that...
      • 4 Years Ago
      "or the cyborg known as Joan Rivers"

      Still has me cracking up !
        • 4 Years Ago
        If you look into her older comedy stuff, she is actually a pretty hilarious lady...
      • 4 Years Ago
      Oh excellent, more anti-corporate angst from some angry internet user.

      Have you even worked in a corporation or a real business?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Wow, that makes a lot of sense dude.

      Lou
      www.anon-vpn.us.tc
      • 4 Years Ago
      Did they get TVs to play Golden Girls all day?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Well, If I ran a business I would hire "The Golden Girls" before I would a bunch of 21-year-olds who call off all the time; either they don't show up, or party all weekend and can't get out of bed on Monday.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Where I work, if you want to know how to do something, you go ask one of the older engineers who has probably seen it a dozen times. You want to know how to install 15 useless apps on your phone, go ask one of the new college grads.
      • 4 Years Ago
      if only they treated their customers this well. I will never own a BMW again after how two Florida Dealerships treated my wife and I.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @ Baron Von D
        fair enough. I delt with 3 dealerships, and the corporate office for the Southern US Region. All were indifferent to legitimate warranty issues on a brand new car, damages to the car while being worked on, and equally unapologetic for placing my wife in a Kia loaner for the 2 weeks that she was without the car (yet still paying for the BMW).

        Maybe my standards are too high, since I also own a Lexus

        and yes, Florida is crazy by epic proportions...
        • 4 Years Ago
        Have you tried reaching out to BMWNA? I had similar issues with my BMW Dealership, who struggled to fix my 335i's HPFP issue. I had a loaner for almost 2 months! After complaining to BMWNA, I got a nicer loaner and a not small settlement check "for my troubles." All in all, the dealership may have stunk, but BMWNA repaired BMW's image in my eyes and makes me comfortable purchasing another one, just from a different dealer.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @fobunited - thank you, good recommendation. I guess I gave up too early - it just bothers me that I know this should have been handled better and the 9+ individuals I spoke with and wrote letters to just dismissed the whole situation.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You should blame the dealer, not the company.

        That and, Florida is just crazy
      • 4 Years Ago
      'm glad to hear that about BMW. As for those roundels, I know of an E46 in the parking lot here that could use a new one on its hood, to replace the one with the missing enamel.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Hopefully while they're comforting their old workers they are teaching their younger workers how to run the line should the time come. You can't exactly spend money to comfort the dead.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Sorry- can't liquidate old workers in Germany- they're protected, just like those with disabilities are protected here. If you wanted to, you could postulate that being over a certain age is a disability in the job market, and certainly one you cannot control. I can't recall the specifics about the law.
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