Healthy Work in an Ageing Europe

5th Initiative (2004 - 2006)

The 5th ENWHP Initiative focussed on strategies that enable employees to remain longer in gainful employment. These strategies reflected the differing policy and legal frameworks in place across Europe.


To improve workplace health and well-being of the ageing workforce 
To increase awareness of all stakeholders to recognise the needs of an ageing workforce and to respond to the impacts of an ageing workforce on workplace health and well-being.
To identify, analyse, document and disseminate models of good practice for workplace health promotion in the context of an ageing workforce (report here).
To develop a toolbox for promoting workplace health and well-being for ageing workers (report here).


Demographic change, and in particular an ageing and shrinking labour market, is presenting new challenges to enterprises and social security systems in Europe. The working age population in the European Union is due to fall by 20.8 million between 2005 and 2030.  At the same time, the proportion of older people in employment will increase markedly, exacerbated by the pushing back of retirement ages, and as the number of younger employees entering the workforce decrease significantly due to lower birth rates.

At present, however, employees over 45 years of age are often perceived as too old for a job, yet this age group will very soon represent the major part of the workforce. In the future, enterprises in Europe will depend more than ever on qualified, motivated and, above all, healthy employees. Government’s also having a significant interest in this, as the continued viability of social security systems requires employees to remain in employment later into life.

Main findings

A large end of project conference attracted delegates from across Europe, “Healthy work in an ageing Europe,” with the findings being pulled together in a conference report. Three themes were considered:

Lifestyle management to support “active ageing” focussing on single risk factor approaches and comprehensive approaches of lifestyle-management as well as on methods for changing unhealthy behaviour.
Lifelong learning as a strategy to improve the level of education, to implement learning concepts for ageing workers and personnel management systems which take the demographic developments into account.
Work organisation and design, where different models, such as flexible working hours, age leadership and the improvement of work organisation and design, showed ways to accommodate the needs of ageing workers.



Meggeneder, O. & Boukal, C. (2005) - Healthy Work in an Ageing Europe - A European Collection of Measures for Promoting the Health of Ageing Employees at the Workplace. Mabuse-Verlag, Frankfurt (PDF 4.08 MB)


Morschhäuser, M. & Sochert, R. (2006) - Healthy Work in an Ageing Europe: Strategies and Instruments for Prolonging Working Life, BKK Bundesverband

ENG (PDF 0.6 MB) ESP (PDF 1.5 MB)


ENWHP (2006) – Healthy Ageing in an Ageing Europe: Report of the 5th European Conference on Promoting Workplace health. BKK Bundesverband (PDF 1.2 MB)