05 May Employee Training: Teaching New Tricks
by Sean Pomeroy
– Baby Boomers are still working. Even though they’re beginning to retire from their career-centred jobs, 47% of them say they will work after they retire. So, you can’t assume that your training program geared towards the entering workforce will be effective for your late Boomers. They did not grow up with the same technology used in most training programs, but that doesn’t mean they can’t learn. In fact, they are the generation that spends the most on the latest and greatest pieces of technology.
The learning curve isn’t as steep as you think.
In fact, the field with the highest Boomer growth is teaching. It is one of the best second careers for the aging generation. Many trade schools look for those who have real life experience, and if you can’t learn you can’t really teach. Teachers have to be adept in new and emerging technologies to appeal to their students and provide the best learning experience. And you can do the same for your mature new hires.
“The misconception that boomers do not appreciate tech crosses all generations. I’ve heard it from fellow baby boomers who say, ‘Wow, you’re so into technology,’ and on down to 20-year-olds who are also surprised.” –Marilynn Mobley, Strategic Counsellor for Edelman, Boomer Insights Generation Group.
Although they only constitute 25% of the population, they consume nearly double that in technology spend. So, they aren’t as technology inept as most people think. They have a deeper wallet to spend their money on the – as Millennials put it – pricey electronic devices. The Baby Boomers’ financial stability plays a part in their growing technology trend.
It’s not retirement; it’s re-engagement
They grew up in a generation focused on hard work and just because they’ve reached legal retirement age and now fully qualify for Social Security, that doesn’t mean they are ready to settle down yet. “Re-engagement,” as it’s called, refers to the restlessness many newly retired people experience after some down time at home or vacationing. On average, this phase is 9 years of contingent work or self-employment.
“I often think about dogs when I think about work and retirement. There are many breeds of dog that just need to be working, and useful, or have a job of some kind, in order to be happy. Otherwise they are neurotically barking, scratching, or tearing up the sofa. A working dog needs to work. And I am a working dog.”—Martha Sherrill, Author of Dog Man
Baby Boomers, even though they may be retired, are not ready to stop working… or stop learning for that matter. Boomers are ready and willing to learn, they just learn differently. They just won’t get the most out of your Millennial-focused training program. Why? Millennials are optimistic team- oriented learners and they function best in active learning situations. Boomers, on the other hand, love learning for the sake of learning and require interaction and discussion time. Adjust your training program to tend to both generations’ strengths.
Then it’s leisure
This “leisure” time isn’t necessarily leisurely. Most retirees expect some type of health problems in their later years that will prevent them from working. So, it’s not that they don’t want to work after a certain age, 77% just believe they won’t be able to due to impending health issues. The entirety of retirement isn’t just someone’s life on the decline. A job in the first phase of retirement is a second career for most people; the last phase, on the other hand is the leisure the word “retirement” suggests. That leisure stage isn’t necessarily by choice; it’s often forced by health reasons.
“Musicians don’t retire; they stop when there’s no more music in them.” –Louis Armstrong
Just because Baby Boomers are retiring from their first careers doesn’t mean they won’t or can’t have a second. Boomers are just as likely to be technologically savvy as their millennial co-workers; however, simply because they did not grow up during the technology age, it is expected they don’t know the devices. This just isn’t true. They can afford the expensive devices and are ready to learn new things in an interactive environment. That’s why it is important to keep them in mind when developing or adjusting your training programs. Yes, Millennials are entering the workforce and a fast pace, but their parents and grandparents are back in the office ready and willing to keep up.