Teach Your Older Employees a New Approach

Teach Your Older Employees a New Approach

With ever-advancing technology and the increased competitiveness of a more globalized economy, more mature employees are finding that their jobs just aren’t what they use to be. That’s where additional training can become instrumental to their success.

While studies show that workers over the age of 50 are often more committed to education, many employers fail to make it accessible to them. With technology constantly changing, many may not necessarily know the ins and outs of the latest breakthrough gadget.

By providing additional training that they can use on the job, you can strengthen the loyalty of employees older than 50.

If you install new software or applications, don’t assume the technology is completely intuitive to all your employees. It’s always helpful to provide a tutorial or a group training session. But you shouldn’t always assume that your older workers don’t know their way around a computer. A 2010 report found that social networking use among internet users ages 50 and older has increased from 22 percent to 42 percent in the last year. In the past several years, technology has become pervasive in our daily lives. Many people today regularly use e-mail and social networking sites such as Facebook for personal communications.

However, it can sometimes be impossible to keep up with the fast pace of technology. Find out what your employees do and don’t know to help train them on relevant topics. Ask their opinion. Studies show us that older workers have a desire to better their job skills, but do you really know what they want to learn about?

It’s hard for you to keep tabs on every single employee. Select a training representative or provide a go-to resource, such as a designated e-mail or a comment drop box in the breakroom, for employees who want to request some additional assistance. Sometimes your employees may be too embarrassed to ask for help, so you’ll have to go to them. If you can’t talk to employees one-on-one, consider sending out a survey that asks about their training needs. Usually, if one employee is struggling, he or she isn’t alone. Based on these results, you can decide what training is most relevant and needed.

Admitting that you don’t know how to do something is hard for a worker of any age. Mature professionals who have years of experience under their belt may have a more difficult time confessing that they need help refreshing their approach. But as much as they may want to learn, their fear of being laughed at or thought of as incompetent may make them hesitant to attend a course or training session. When you announce training opportunities be sure to tell employees that taking these classes will in no way reflect poorly on their position at your company. Reassure them that this training is only meant to add to what they already know.

When you set up a training class, keep your employees’ comfort in mind. Among other things, experts recommend choosing a facility that has ergonomically-correct workstations, ample lighting and good acoustics. They also recommend that all presentation materials have large font and images, making them easier to read.

Schedule time for regular breaks, so that employees are able to get up and move around. Employees who are comfortable will to retain information more than those that aren’t. Consider giving employees training materials a few days prior to the training session to let them get familiar with the material.

Once in class, invite discussion. Allow them to ask questions and address any material that is perplexing to them. Also, provide hands-on learning whenever possible. For example, if you’re teaching employees about new computer software or applications, allow them time in class to test drive it as you give them pointers.

Once they’ve completed the training, provide follow-up training, online tools, discussion groups and other resources they can use to help them practice and review what they’ve learned. Investing in education for older loyal employees can produce a greater return on investment.

Source : Kristina Meyer

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