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Employing an aging Workforce – the Technology affect

We’ve heard a lot about the reduction in the number of workers in modern economies and the dire predictions of doom that come with them. Sure, worldwide populations are growing exponentially, yet on the other hand there are growing demographics bemoaning lower population growth, and the impending destruction of western economies due to an inability to be able to grow a workforce that can add more taxation revenue, to support the burgeoning number of older people that welfare states will have to pay for.

I’m not going to get on a high horse about the seeming inability of younger recruiters to consider more ‘mature’ employees (perhaps ‘experienced’ is a better euphemism). There are of course lots of studies suggesting that once people hit fifty they may have better luck winning the lottery, than actually getting an interview for a position that they could most likely do in their sleep – that’s a title for another day. Today we’re considering some of the technological challenges that Technology can pose to an aging workforce, and how best to use this as a positive, rather than a rod that ends up frustrating both employee and employer.

How about this - US Department of Labor shows that, by 2024, one in four workers in the United States will be 55 or older. That came from a really interesting Deloitte's article also this from the same article 85 percent of today’s baby boomers plan to continue to work into their 70s and even 80s.

In a world where workforce management is becoming increasingly topical, one of the key drivers going forward will be the ability of organisations to not only ensure that they have their mobile technology in place, but also a workforce that is ready and able to deliver their strategy. The issue of course isn’t just a population one – after all, the world is growing every second it’s a skill shortage!

But surely the robots are taking over? Well yes and no. for industries like:

· Transportation.

· Manufacturing.

· Packaging and shipping.

· Customer service.

· Finance.

· Healthcare.

· Agriculture.

There is a case. But there is only so much that the automatons can do. The skill shortage is now, growing and very real. SO… back to our topic about employing an aging workforce. If the world is facing a skills shortage, and indeed a shortage of suitably qualified people and people aren’t content to throw on their slippers and hunker down in front of the TV waiting for the lunchtime yogurt to arrive, then it makes sense that Employers will have to dig back into the population pool to activate those 50 and above to be able to bring up production and of course profits.

If, as an employer you’re going to engage with the older worker and bring them on to the payroll it makes sense that you are aware of their concerns about technology and any likely objections that you’re going to encounter. Here are some of the common concerns of older workers:

· Usability - How simply is this software/device to use? They may have heard stories about how difficult it is to learn and upskill themselves. Help ensure that steps to usage are clear, concise and follow a pattern (The same could be said for any software design really)

· Fear of making mistakes – This is something particularly strong in older workers. They fear making a mistake and getting things wrong – something their younger compatriots understand is just part of the process. Let older Workers know that it is OK to get things wrong (Just learn from that mistake!)

· Lack of Patience – Sometimes Older Workers display a lack of patience when learning new software or processes. Account for this and just let them know that (as above) they will make mistakes

· Social Responsibility (taking business away from others) – Often older people worry about ‘fairness’. IS it fair to use this device/technology? It will help to allay their fears.

Like it or not…aging workers will be playing an increasing part in many organisations in the future. Retirement and pension schemes are getting pushed down the road, and people simply don’t have enough to retire and do the things they want to. The use of mobiles, tablets, PC’s handhelds and software and hardware of all types isn’t going to regress, so when progress meets opportunity the outcome will be that your organisation is going to have more and more Workers over 50, over 60 and over 70…so please consider making sure that your software, processes and procedures support both the technology and your ‘New’ Workers.

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