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How Age Affects Employee Training

21st Feb 2017
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When it comes down to employee training there is no “one-size-fits-all.”  You have to adopt your training to fit the various learning styles, personalities and even age.

First let’s be clear, an employer shouldn’t have any reservations about hiring older employees, as there are many advantages with them.  Additionally, cumulative research has shown that there are no differences in observed performance as a result of worker age.

An older employee has already experienced a lot and has probably seen just about every situation that can come up in the workplace.   They’re also more interested in the actual job, less likely to complain and less likely to be pushing for immediate advancement. 

However, older employees view work differently than millennials and you should adopt your training program to accommodate this difference.  An older employee will be one of the most loyal and hardworking hires you have providing you know how to properly train them.

The older hire is ready and willing to enhance your workplace and become a loyal part of your workforce.

Here are some aspects to consider.

Life experience

The older employee has life experience that the younger worker doesn’t. The chances are they’ve already worked in a similar setting as yours and are already familiar with standard procedures and protocol.

You don’t have to waste time instructing on the basic operating practices with the older employee, as they’ve already experienced them, probably several times over.

The point is, with an older worker you can cut through the chase and get right to meat of the job specifics during training. 

Don’t waste time on redundancy by running through very basic office operations and obvious procedures that anyone who’s already been in the workplace should know.

Concentrate on what really matters about the job.

Company loyalty

Unlike millennials who like to change employers frequently based upon job satisfaction and life goals, the baby boomer is more likely to be a loyal, steady employee.

The older generation isn’t as concerned about satisfaction and is more likely to view a job only as a necessary means of support. They don’t change jobs very often and once you have them, an older hire is looking for an employer and company that they can stick with for years.

An older worker takes great pride in the work they do and the company they work for.

Training should reflect this by better stating the rewards, benefits and stability that come with the job.

The older hire is more interested with why you’re a good company and the reasons they should work for you, but not as much with tremendous opportunities for personal growth or rapid advancement.

Low tech

The younger generation is tech-savvy and they’ve spent their entire lives in the internet age and are very comfortable learning through technology.

The older worker is more comfortable with person to person communication and absorbing information through a hard copy.

Limit the computer time training with the older hires and opt instead to go with an old-fashioned written manual.  Instead of being bogged down just trying to understand and use the technology, the older hire will be able to better concentrate more on the information at hand.

Hands on training

You want to reduce the classroom time and take a more hands on approach. Older hires already understand the work process and are ready to be trained directly for the job.

A younger employee grew up in an environment of classroom learning, but the chances are that an older hire has less classroom education, but more on the job experience.  They’re used to being led to a machine, being told how to operate it and then get on with the job at hand.

These employees came from an era of minimal training and probably any preparation you provide is more than they were expecting, in the first place.

Don’t expect them to respond as well to classroom learning and adopt your training to be more work specific.  They learn best by actually doing, so the sooner you can get them on the machine they’ll be operating or at the job they’ll be doing, all the better so far as they’re concerned.

Build on life experience

An older employee has already experienced the basics; they know the ropes and what’s expected of them on the job. A training program geared for the older hire should respect that experience and accumulated knowledge.

Your training should reflect, enhance and build upon this life experience.

They want to know the importance of their job to the company and how their valuable experience can be put to work in a more productive way.  They want to feel that their job and their background counts for something.

An older worker wants to feel that their experiences are respected and that their accumulated knowledge is valuable to the company.

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