Technology, Training and Aging

It is time to stop blaming older workers for their lack of willingness to adopt new technology. The problem is not them; it’s the lack of effectiveness of your training to get their buy-in by presenting features and benefits that mean something to them personally. This approach also gets everyone – not just your older workers – on board at the same pace.

Think about the older adults in your life and the way they use technology. They take selfies on their phones, they love using emojis in texts, and they basically rule Facebook and Twitter by sharing posts and retweeting memes. Smart phones and computers are not foreign lands to them, so when it comes to introducing new technology, the problem lies in the poor communications and ineffective instruction about how a change in technology can enhance their work life and effectiveness on the job.

Are your instructors skilled to speak the same language as your older workers? They can’t assume everyone understands the latest tech lingo while completing lightning fast maneuvers on the keyboard. Different students learn in different ways. So, instructors need to offer examples and analogies in practice exercises that bind those being trained with the new knowledge.

The reasons for the changes have to be explained honestly and clearly. Absent or misinformation makes people manufacture their own reasons, and all of it will be negative and counterproductive. Explain the importance of the change, why it benefits the company and employees, and what is going to be done to facilitate learning on the new technology. Make partners of trainees with the rollout with honest assessments of the challenges ahead so that the prospect of learning appears achievable.

Focus on the fact that new technology is tied to improved personal effectiveness. Promote the value of performing differently as a value of their contribution, and that integration is key to what the company is doing. People want to be successful at their job, so help them believe their work has a higher value if they adopt new technology. It gives them a personal stake in the change.