HR Management & Compliance

Train Your Older Workers Effectively

Do you have more older workers on the job these days? If you answered “yes,” it’s not surprising. The American population is aging, and so is the nation’s workforce. Consider these statistics:

  • The proportion of the U.S. population of people aged 65 and older is projected to increase from 12.4 percent in 2000 to 19.6 percent in 2030 and continue to grow through 2050.
  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median age of the U.S. civilian labor force was projected to reach a record high of 40.7 in 2008. After 1962, the median age had declined steadily until 1980 and it has been rising ever since.
  • Industry sectors with decreasing numbers of workers are experiencing an overall higher median age due to Baby Boomers staying in the workforce longer and “last hired, first fired” policies.

Employees are remaining on the job longer for a number of reasons:

  • They need more money to sustain them because they are living longer.
  • They need work-provided benefits, especially in light of pressure on pensions and Social Security.
  • They seek the stimulation and sense of productivity that come from meaningful work.
  • They enjoy feeling valued for their experience and knowledge.

An aging workforce means there are more older workers to train than ever before—and that will continue to be true for many years to come. Are they getting the training they need?

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Despite the growing number of older people in the workforce, some employers are reluctant to spend training dollars on older workers. They may think that they won’t be with the company long enough to make it worthwhile, or that their experience lessens the return on training.

Supervisors and managers who conduct safety training often discount older workers, too, and focus their attention on younger employees, who take more risks and have more accidents. But the fact is that older workers need all kinds of training—including safety training.

With methods and technologies changing fast in so many areas, all workers need to keep their skills and knowledge up to date. Besides, your older workers are valuable employees, who tend to have a stronger sense of loyalty and commitment to the job and the organization, a better work ethic, a better attendance record, better judgment, lower turnover, and fewer accidents.

So it just makes good business sense to make sure they get the training they need to continue to work safely and productively.

Older workers learn best when training:

  • Builds on prior knowledge and experience
  • Follows a step-by-step approach
  • Allows plenty of time to assimilate information (self-paced learning is often ideal for older workers)
  • Provides handouts to be taken home for study
  • Gives an adequate opportunity for practice
  • Provides support and encouragement
  • Involves plenty of interaction, discussion, feedback, etc.
  • Provides a positive learning environment (e.g., a well-lit area, easy-to-see visual aids, good acoustics so that trainees can hear clearly, and frequent breaks to use rest rooms)

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Unfortunately, trainers sometimes fall into the trap of pigeonholing older workers, and as a result, the training they provide doesn’t meet the needs of this important segment of the workforce. Here’s what to avoid:

  • Don’t stereotype older workers. They aren’t all sitting around waiting for retirement. They are productive, competent people with lots of valuable knowledge and experience.
  • Don’t assume older workers can’t or don’t want to learn new technologies. They can acquire the necessary skills effectively when appropriate training is available—and are often eager to do so in order to remain on the job and continue to make a meaningful contribution.
  • Don’t waste time teaching them what they already know and can already do proficiently.
  • Conversely, don’t assume that they don’t need training just because of their age and experience. They may lack required skills or need refresher training.

In short, the general rule of training applies in this case: Know your audience and adapt your training to their sensibilities and capabilities.

Ready-to-Use Safety Training Courses

No matter what the age of your trainees, you need accurate and effective content for your training sessions. Could you use prewritten, ready-to-use training content on more than 100 critical safety topics? Topics such as:

  • Back Safety
  • Bloodborne Pathogens
  • Permit-Required Confined Spaces
  • Substance Abuse in the Workplace
  • Exit Routes
  • Fall Protection
  • Forklifts
  • Hazard Communication
  • Lockout/Tagout
  • SDSs
  • Slips and Falls
  • Violence in the Workplace

Look no further than the Workplace Safety Library on BLR’s TrainingToday®.

Train for Compliance—and for Safety’s Sake

Unlike many training solutions available on the market today, TrainingToday courses are routinely reviewed and updated to reflect changes in federal regulations or best practices. Each training course is developed by BLR® lawyers, industry experts, and instructional designers who have experience across a wealth of industries, topics, and compliance areas.

Courses keep participants interested with engaging audio, built-in exercises, and key points to remember. At the completion of every course, individuals take a quiz designed to test for competency in all the course material presented. Quiz results and course completion times are automatically recorded.

Every course can be tailored with supporting and custom documents. BLR provides supporting documents for courses that include complete speaker notes and the answer key for the included quiz. As the administrator, you have the option of displaying uploaded documents and requiring review before the session begins. This is especially useful for company policies or worksite-specific information. Supporting materials can be added, edited, or removed at any time.

With only a few minutes’ setup, your company will have a complete Web-based training program with professionally developed courses, employee testing capabilities, and systematic documentation of employee training sessions and scores. And remember, BLR TrainingToday courses can be delivered at individual employee desks, in computer centers, at training kiosks, or even in a classroom.

No wonder BLR’s TrainingToday was named “Best Workforce Training Solution” by the Software Information Industry Association. It can help you launch a cost-effective and successful employee training program.

We urge you to sign up for a no-obligation demo by visiting the award-winning TrainingToday. Or, feel free to call our customer service people toll-free at 866-696-4827.