Did you know that one in four Singapore employees is 55 or older? With an ageing population and increasing workplace ageism, companies and employees must recognise the significance of lifelong learning.
The way we work is evolving rapidly. Robots have already become part of the workforce, and there is a shift towards remote working and the metaverse. Technological advancements swiftly impact organisations and employees, displacing some jobs while creating new ones.
As the modern workspace transforms in the digital age - most likely quicker than expected due to the pandemic - businesses risk alienating their older workers. However, the more senior and digital workplaces are here to stay. Therefore, managers must find ways to help their older workers embrace the digital workspace.
As businesses move towards the digital age, adopting productivity tools has become more common. However, it's essential to consider whether older employees are ready and willing to use them effectively.
Digital literacy is crucial because it enables employees to manage tasks efficiently, fosters team transparency, and enhances collaboration. Using standard digital tools also helps bridge the generational divide in a diverse workforce.
The shift from paperwork to cloud-based file management tools has also made it easier for employees to manage their personal information, licenses, certifications, and leave requests.
Besides fancy tools, essential communication in the workplace involves emails, messages, and presentations. All of which require digital literacy skills to ensure efficient work.
Provide Training and Mentorship
A proper introduction to your digital workplace for all users is required for them to know what they are getting into. However, older team members may need more detailed explanations on accessing and using all the available benefits. While younger workers who grew up using smart devices may be able to navigate the platform intuitively, older workers may need more help.
One effective way to provide this help is through an online learning management system with training modules that can be accessed for initial training and as a reminder as many times as necessary. Giving everyone enough time to understand and practice the system is essential.
Consider implementing a “buddy” system where younger workers are paired with older workers to help them become confident using it. As the learner progresses, both buddies can earn staff rewards and perks as motivation to continue using the system.
Listen To Feedbacks
The most effective digital workplaces are constantly evolving in tandem with the growth of the business and its changing needs. Management should continuously request feedback on how the platform is performing, evaluate what could be modified or added, identify under-utilized parts of the system, and determine the reasons behind it.
Online surveys and polls are a valuable source of information in this regard, as are more informal discussion forums. Employees will appreciate being asked for their opinions, and frontline users will likely have the best ideas for system tweaks and improvements. Make it convenient for people to share their new ideas and suggestions.
Incentivise Upskill Or Reskill
Providing incentives to older employees looking to upskill or reskill themselves will encourage them to adapt to changes in the industry and technology. Learning new skills helps more senior employees understand the latest technology implemented in a company and prepares them for changes.
This way, they won’t be left behind or shadowed by younger and more digitally literate employees. They will also stay relevant and vital to the company with added experience and knowledge.
Stereotypes about older people in the workplace are common, especially regarding new technology. However, avoiding assuming those over 50 will have difficulty adapting to a digital workplace is essential. Many are highly tech-savvy and embrace new ways of managing information and interacting digitally. Even those with less technical knowledge and experience are often willing to learn if given the opportunity.
It is important not to assume that older staff members not using a digital system reject it. They may need to learn how to navigate it and require training. It is also necessary to understand that one-size training only fits some. Depending on the users' levels of experience, it may be necessary to design different levels of training for the same system.
Regular Check-ins with Older Employees
Regularly meeting with older employees is crucial to identify digital challenges and determine the measures or steps to address these problems. These meetings also allow managers to remember which digital tools the older employees are unfamiliar with and provide them with relevant training resources to improve their confidence and skills.
By regularly checking with older employees, challenges can be addressed immediately or discussed to reach a sound solution that benefits both the employer and the employee in the long term.
Older employees should be allowed to contribute their knowledge and experience to their company for as long as they want. Providing the means of familiarising themselves with digital literacy can help them adapt to technology in the long term. Employers can now find top talents among older and mature age groups who are digitally advanced from job portals like Jobs Lah.