Having older professionals in your workforce can be a massive advantage. They have years of experience and a completely different perspective to offer compared to their younger counterparts. However, there can be a number of challenges associated with ensuring this demographic feel valued in their role.
One of the most effective ways of engaging with employees, regardless of their age, is to provide them with various opportunities to expand their skillset. This doesn't need to be anymore difficult with an older workforce than with their younger colleagues, but can take a little more thought and consideration around implementation.
1. Digital upskilling
It's likely that your older employees spent a lot of time at work without the internet. This can mean they lack the skills needed to make the most out of digital resources and may also struggle to see a need for it. However, with all workplaces embracing digital, not understanding it can be a massive obstacle to wider engagement.
A single standalone training session is unlikely to have much success. You need to host a series of events that cover the basics of digital but also put what they have learnt into context and hammer home the importance of embracing these skills. It's also best to ensure that there's time at the end of every session to ask questions about what they've been taught.
2. Identify their strengths
For older employees, it can feel as though the work environment is leaving them behind but this should never be true. Work with each of your professionals to identify their strengths or passions. Once you have a clear list of attributes or skills that they perform well at, you can identify ways they can be used or adapted to fit with your current business objectives.
Not only does this give them a sense of value, despite the changing needs of the company, but will also allow them to be engaged in the new direction your team are taking.
3. Adapt training sessions
It may seem counterintuitive or even patronizing to offer different training sessions for professionals who are older, but it can actually be beneficial for everyone. As we age, it becomes more difficult to retain information at the same speed. This, combined with a room of younger colleagues who seem to get everything instantly, can be demoralizing for anyone.
Of course, you don't need to segregate employees but you can offer training sessions at different levels: basic, intermediate and advanced. This allows professionals whatever their age to pick the event they feel most prepared for, you could also include a brief synopsis for each level to help people judge which is the best fit for them.
4. Online training suites
Upskilling everyone to be digitally capable doesn't just help achieve the wider objectives of the company and ensure older people are engaged, but it can also open a host of fresh opportunities for training.
Online portals can be a fantastic way to upskill employees without them having to worry about keeping up with everyone else. These suites allow professionals to complete sessions at their own pace and go over previous information if they need to recap.
It also means employers are able to get a clear picture of areas where employees may be struggling and offer further support or resources to help bring them up to speed.