There’s a demographic challenge facing employers in the UK and it’s not the obvious one that addresses an ageing population. In fact, on the contrary it’s the recognition that our workforce is made up of multiple generations and accordingly their opinions differ!
Workers age is the usual starting point with stereotypical assumptions made about individuals’ confidence when using technology; with older generations being technologically inept and those still with youth on their side being too technologically advanced to know the dangers of it. Of course, stereotypes can’t be created without there being some truth to them, but as with most things there are exceptions to every generalisation.
When UK workers were surveyed on their confidence in using the IT provided to them at work, the differences between the various ages groups was less extreme than the stereotype would portray.
44% of those between 18-34 years old felt fully confident in using the IT provided to them, with 36% of those over 55 reporting the same level of confidence.
Those who reported being somewhat confident in using the technology, provided even further similarities in response, with 49% of 18-34 and 50% of 55+ workers responding feeling somewhat confident. The reality would therefore appear that the majority of users in the workplace feel at least somewhat confident using the technology.
Is this an indication that older workers are becoming more tech-savvy or that technology in the workplace isn’t advancing as quickly as it is in our everyday lives? It’s likely to be a combination of the two, particularly when you consider the findings of the 2019 Ofcom Communications report which found average UK adoption of mobile phones is 94% with only those over 65 falling below that average. Perhaps the biggest indicator of the generational differences are derived from the previous year’s Ofcom report which found 72% of 18-34 year olds describe mobile phones as the most important device they use, compared to 17% of over 55’s. This is perhaps more telling in that younger generations may not be as experienced using older devices (e.g. laptops/desktops) and applications such as those commonly deployed, causing their confidence using the technology provided to them in the workplace to be lower than expected.
Organisations must therefore crucially align their digital transformation strategy with the way that individuals of all ages interact with technology in their daily lives; ensuring that regardless of the technology, there is a learning culture implemented alongside it to ensure workers are able to build their confidence in the services in a way that’s tailored to their needs.
Functionality that’s flexible and easy to navigate is the panacea of technology adoption – the most successful innovations of the 21st Century; smart phones, social media etc are all designed accordingly and why? Well the answer fundamentally lies in enhancing the user experience. Apply that strategy to an organisations technology and the end result is engaged, motivated workers, high employee retention rates and a swathe of talent attracted to the benefits of a personalised way of working.
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