Despite the number of millennials entering the workforce and the number of baby boomers retiring, the American workplace has aged at a rapid rate in the last decade. During that time, the average age of workers in the United States rose from about 37 to almost 42, and analysts expect this to rise to about 42.6 by 2022. Older workers make up a large percentage of the total workforce, and companies must adjust to meet their needs. One of the most pressing requirements involves changing the way enterprises approach expert online training.
There’s a pervasive myth in American culture that people over 50 hate new technology and will fight tooth and nail to keep it out of their lives. As recently as 10 years ago, that attitude held some merit, but the latest crop of people within your sales channel don’t have the same hang-ups about technology in the workplace. The prevalence of social media, video streaming and video chat made it necessary for older adults to adopt new technology in their homes, and as a result, they became more comfortable with using similar tools in the workplace.
Though older users do have a base level of comfort with new technology, they still face some struggles with computer-based learning. Adopting the right training management software allows your company to address these issues head-on and provide a better learning experience. There are two areas of particular interest to older users.
One of the reasons technology barriers fell so quickly among people over 50 is the explosion of the mobile market. These devices are very user-friendly, easy to set up and cost much less than a comparable desktop or laptop. It’s estimated that up to half of all people over 50 use a mobile device as their primary means of accessing the Internet, and the number of mobile users over 50 is set to surpass the number of younger users in six years.
To reach older users, your training management software must be mobile-compatible so learners can navigate the materials with controls that they use regularly. These mobile controls are attractive to older users because they don’t require the dexterity and fine motor skills needed to operate a mouse. In addition, mobile device compatibility enables individuals to access training portals on their own time, at their own pace. This way, older users don’t feel judged or rushed when they need to take a little extra time to get through some material, leading to higher levels of retention. In contrast, desktop-only training management software appears intimidating and confusing to older users, which significantly hampers their rates of adoption and engagement.
Poor eyesight and eye strain caused by reading a computer screen create barriers to technology adoption and development for older learners. A Pew Research study found that approximately 23 percent of all older computer users have a physical condition that makes it a struggle to use technology. The inability to read the text on a screen makes older users feel self-conscious, so they rebel against computer-based technology.
Training management software that integrates multimedia learning modules, rather than solely text-based materials, draws older users into the learning system. A multimedia presentation has two important effects on learning for older users. First, the user doesn’t strain his or her eyes while engaging the material, which eliminates the physical barrier to adoption. Second, multimedia learning modules remove all but the most pertinent information and deliver this in bite-size chunks that an older user can absorb easily, helping to avoid cognitive overload, a condition in which a learner is overwhelmed by extraneous or unnecessary information that drowns out the intended lesson.
Older employees have invaluable skills and experience that can be enhanced through an expert online training program. By addressing the specific challenges older users face, you ensure these individuals have training that fits their learning styles and inspires them to achieve more.