The Bold Faced Blog™

November 04, 2013

Old Dogs, New Tricks?

Posted 5 years 318 days ago by Sheila Ellian Lewis

The assumption that baby boomers would follow their parents’ model and move into retirement promptly at 60 has been radically altered by the recent economic crisis and recession.  According to a January 2013 report from The Conference Board more US workers are planning to delay retirement, and improving health among older people means that large numbers of those workers may be able to work well into their 70s.

Dealing with Stereotypes
The tired stereotypes of older workers being unable to cope with advancing technology, or uninterested in learning more to enable them to continuously adapt to the changes of the workplace are definitely outdated. However, businesses do need to pay attention to engaging older workers and ensuring that they have opportunity and access to learning, just as they do for younger employees.

There is a difference in perspective between people who are new to the workforce and those with experience of a company sometimes over decades. “Older workers are not looking at training as a way to move up the ladder,” says Jim Dunn, executive learning officer with the Cleveland Clinic in Chief Learning Officer Magazine.” The question for them is ‘What do you want from me, and how can I help the organization?’ You can’t approach it like an entry-level or mid-level employee.”

Diff’rent Strokes
Various organizations approach the issue of engaging and retaining older workers differently. Some turn to mentoring programs, where younger employees work with older employees to help them with transitions to newer technologies. Some invite older employees to contribute their expertise and experience to innovation projects, examining processes and systems that may have been in place for some time. In some cases, the learning opportunities are the same across the generations in the workforce but the presentation of that material may differ, even in terms of fonts or colors, to ensure that different learning styles and approaches are covered.

The fact remains that the fastest growing segment of the workforce is aged 55-65, according to a US News & World Report, and businesses can benefit from that.

“”Even though organizations need to constantly reinvent themselves, they still need to know where they’ve been, as well as where they’re going,” says Joan Dessinger, co-author of Training Older Workers and Learners (OWLs.) “Older workers bring that sense of history, that sense of continuity to organizations.”

At Ashton212 we welcome the experience of older workers and consultants are valued for the expertise they have developed over a career.  How about your business?  Do you face challenges in keeping older workers engaged and involved, and what creative solutions are out there? Let us know by sharing in the comments.

Tags: education learning older workers

Categories: categoryEmployment Trends

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