Supporting an Ageing Workforce

January 17, 2018

With the increase in people working after the old fashioned ‘retirement’ age, we now have potentially five generations all at work at once!  With Traditionalists and Baby Boomers competing with Millennials and Gen Z, it becomes a complex challenge to manage diverse teams who all need different motivations, communications and training. Claire shares her tips on how to support an ageing workforce.

By Claire Morley-Jones

Managers and leaders face a complex challenge which is becoming more and more critical regardless of industry and yet, this cross-generation skillset is not one which managers and SME owners usually have.  That’s why understanding where you might need to adapt your leadership style, learning and practise is actually essential, particularly when UK productivity is at an all time low.

So, whilst we’ve covered Millennial needs in another blog, in this one we thought we’d address how SME leaders (predominantly now Gen X’ers) can relate well, motivate effectively, and support the ageing workforce around them.

Keeping talent is becoming more important, so it seems good business sense to take someone who has consistently delivered the right behaviours over their career and ensure that they have the skills fit for the future.  The old adage, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” has been proven beyond doubt to be wrong, so now is the time to review your workforce skills gaps and work out where they can be plugged!

Baby Boomers are famed for their work ethic and commitment to getting the job done and have years of experience in the workplace so are less likely to switch employers.  Re-training of the individuals with these characteristics can only support your bottom line and help it to grow!  So how?

Well, we’re all going to have to start thinking carefully about how we develop and engage our employees because there is no longer a one size fits all approach.  The good news is that Traditionalists and Baby Boomers expect to be exposed to development opportunities. The problem is that they expect this to be with a facilitator, instructor or trainer standing at the front of a room!

Here are my tops tips for making learning fun and beneficial for older workers:

  • Create opportunities to accommodate the broadest audience possible. This is difficult on a budget where you would expect to source just one piece of training and have it be fit for purpose for everyone.  However, it may be that there is a face to face course for those that would find it beneficial, and a LinkedIn training programme for those who would prefer to do something online.
  • Engage the Boomers in participating in the training (particularly if it is face to face) and then engage them in disseminating the key messages to others in the organisation, perhaps using tech.
  • If learning is to be via technology, appreciate that there can be tension for more experienced learners and give them additional explanation, time and support. A more traditional formal classroom can still be delivered virtual so consider how you could create this opportunity.
  • Create multiple ways in which learning can be practised in a safe environment before it needs to be applied. This will mean providing more time during a learning event or creating on-the-job assignments that allow practise before leaping in.
  • Create a competitive reason as to why the learning is important. Baby Boomers like a competitive environment and learn a lot from business games/real world situations that encourage competition and badges!
  • With all their experience, older workers are not afraid of confrontation and should be given a forum for their concerns to be aired and heard.
  • Position, perks and prestige are huge motivators which can be leveraged by all SME’s to encourage full engagement in the training

If you’d like any more information or support with training methods, just get in touch with the HR180 Team!

Leeds based HR180 is a team of superheroes in HR Outsourcing, Projects and Consultancy committed to work in partnership with organisations of all sizes to establish working policies to go above and beyond Employment Law requirements, to protect both employees and employers alike. We love to hear from you, so call us on 0113 287 8150 or hit the Rescue Me button.

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