The workforce is getting older. Does L&D need to adjust?


The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that by 2024, 25% of the workforce will be at least age 55. As these workers mix with other generations, learning and development professionals may be left wondering how to offer learning and growth opportunities that speak to this more seasoned demographic as loudly as to their peers.

Connecting learning across the generations can be challenging, but not impossible. And as with all workplace initiatives, it’s important to remember that a focus on personalization — not stereotypes — is key.

Even when the workforce was comprised of only two or three generations, it was difficult to create training that would impact a wide range of learners, according to Fabio Pirovano, Docebo’s CTO. Today’s workforce boasts at least five.

And while millennials are quickly becoming the largest generation in the workforce, many factors have older employees working longer. We’re approaching a time when it may be common for an employee to pursue multiple careers in his or her lifetime, according to Mike DiClaudio, principal at KPMG.

With differing points of view and various career stages, it can be difficult to create learning that works for all, Pirovano told HR Dive via email. L&D professionals are being challenged to provide valuable content for all generations, with variations in format and delivery. “Since there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach that will work,” he said, “learning platforms that organizations use will need to be able to build and deliver content that is flexible and varying to suit the learner, creating a more personalized approach.”

Creating content that crosses the generational lines may be challenging, Pirovano said, particularly for companies with limited resources. But instead of choosing between the status quo (knowing it will someday become outdated) and prioritizing efforts that appeal largely to one group, he suggests a third approach: a consideration of the disconnect that currently exists between knowledge and delivery.

This approach requires organizations to respond to the needs and habits of individual learners. “In this scenario,” he said, “organizations don’t actually have to produce the content manually nor understand who would benefit. In this scenario, you would have the same type of content but it could be delivered by video, or text, or SMS or slides.”

Organizations can risk under-serving talent if they focus on population-specific requirements, according to Jill Goldstein, global practice lead, talent and HR operations at Accenture’s Talent & HR Business Process Services Group (BPS). Personalization of learning is key and should be based on role, skills, experiences and development goals, she told HR Dive via email.


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