Older Workers Are Better At Adapting To New Technology, Study Finds

Megalith

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Younger people are lazy, entitled, and whine about everything—oh wait, it might actually be true. Out of 4,000 surveyed IT workers, one quarter of respondents 55 or older are bothered by tech in the workplace, but 36 percent of respondents 18 to 34—the ones who supposedly grew up with technology—said they find tech in the workplace stressful.

"My hypothesis, which could be right or wrong, is when you look at a younger generation in the workforce, a lot of the folks in that category are used to using tech in their personal lives that's pretty darn good. And that raises the expectations of what tech can be in their professional lives," he says. "That said, when you look at the technologies broadly still in use in the workplace, they often don’t achieve that level of cleanliness and personability [of the technology] in our personal lives. So younger people will feel frustration at tools that are not up to snuff,” Baesman says. In contrast, older people who have been working longer “have seen a lot worse,” he adds, “so there may be more tolerance for tech that may not always be as good as it might be."
 

Michaelius

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That's so true - when you know what high end pc is and how modern software works and your company handles you laptop with 5400 rpm drive and software which remembers win 3.11 era there's going to be a lot of anger ;)
 

MacLeod

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Because we're smarter than this stupid millennial generation. {runs and hides}

omgwtf.gif
 

heatlesssun

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We're getting to the point were older folks have had tech in their lives for most it and have simply had to do more adapting than younger people. So this seems reasonable to me. So much has changed in the 25 years I've been in this business and you just learn to roll with it if you're any good.
 

griffinhart

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We're getting to the point were older folks have had tech in their lives for most it and have simply had to do more adapting than younger people. So this seems reasonable to me. So much has changed in the 25 years I've been in this business and you just learn to roll with it if you're any good.
This is my initial thought too, if this is true. It's also something that I have witnessed first hand with the adult children of friends and family as well as new hires at work. Everyone is savvy enough to use smartphones, tablets and log into wifi networks, but beyond the basics they need just as much hand holding as non-IT folks needed 30 years ago.
 

Jeremy C

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I don't read this as "older people are better at adapting" but rather "younger people are less accepting of shit software." I'm definitely in that latter group. Stop cutting back on IT/programmers and maybe workers will stop bitching about software that locks up 10 times a day that actually is 3.11 era to tie into the second post. I guess that would require companies to see IT as more than just a cost against the bottom line.
 

Dead Parrot

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People 50+ remember how cumbersome it was to do what are now simple things. Example: change a meeting time. Manager changes time, tasks some poor 'new guy' slob to call everyone and tell them the new time, poor slob spends an hour or more dialing on rotary phone one person at a time to advise. No voice mail so then run around and hunt down folks not at desk. So dealing with a several year old email/scheduling system is still a vast improvement over 'the good old days'.
 

scojer

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The older generation believes in doing work, and job security. They roll with the changes because it is their work ethics. The younger crowd loves shit handed to them on a silver platter, and if they have to make that shit themselves, they bitch and complain.

Now, that isn't saying ALL the younger generation is that way. Just the ones that weren't raised right.
 

4saken

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Ive said it before. I am 37, started in IT at 20. When I started most of my peers were in similar age with the older guy with crazy knowledge sprinkled in. As i have grown in my career, i have also noticed the guys pulling the weight are now my age or within 5 years, give or take the few exceptions of younger folks who are really on the ball. The average age in IT of the quality worker has risen. So i believe it.
 

Trimlock

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Outside of your typical posters who like to generalize a generation that are mostly based on personal ignorance and opinion, this article rings true.

The younger crowed grew up with tech as a form of entertainment, when you use it as a tool to get work done your opinion on it has to change drastically as now you are forced to use it in a way you aren't used to. Older crowed sees newer tools as a means to get work done faster (management sees it as a way to do more work lol) as they are gradually introduced to it in different ways unlike the younger crowed.

Then you got your old crusty guy who still thinks we should have to wait in line, hand some finance geek our time stub, wait for him to write a check and then go to a bank where you wait in another line to deposit it.
 
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Any job will be frustrating to those without a clue, regardless of age.
Huge respect to to a few old guys I met who have never stopped learning and were willing to acquire new skills when they should have been in retirement already.
 

Quix

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I never have this problem (and I'm in that age range). Maybe it's because I started with an IBM XT and DOS when I was 8, so I'm not in the "I only like tech that's shiny and perfect" crowd. IT work is about learning, you stop learning and you're out of date and they'll drop you like a tonne of bricks (except in rare cases). That's the thing I like most about my job in software development. I get to learn new things every day.
 

MV75

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I'm a bit of both. Started with an Atari 2600 in 1982 and have been through the pc the whole way from the good old 8088 to now with an 1231v3 xeon. I've seen technology the whole way and I have a good tolerance to older stuff as I know what it can do. I'm changing to accounting and am half way there on the diploma, use pc's and smash through excel with my eyes closed. But now a few subjects are in some "arts" room filled with horrid i7 aio macs with 27" screens, shitty tiny keyboards and even shittier mice that are all broken in some way. They're not even good for producing art work, the screens aren't that great.

I have no tolerance for these things as they are heavily marketed as "should just work". pfft. Fucking garbage machines with cheap peripherials. After fumbling around to grope for the power button on the back then having to stand up, look over the top and scratch the back up trying to find the usb port with a usb stick to plug in, we're good to go. At least the front looks good with no convenient power button or usb ports. L O L. But looks good for who? They're supposed to be a tool to make life easier, everything but. Using these for excel is such a damn chore. Can't just press f4, have to use the command then f4, copy/paste doesn't work as it should, no matter what method of copy / paste I choose it seems to do the opposite. Just easier to re-enter data. Total crap. Even saving files to usb, there is no option to save in folders, just root. Fuck I hate those shitty things. At least I've now got a baseline experience with apple, I now know I'll constantly be fighting it, getting half the work done due to backwards work flow, and leave pissed off.

Yeas sure I can say to recruiters I've used a mac, but fuck, I wouldn't want to work for someone who's an absolute fucktard on productivity by having these garbage things in the work place.
 

Dekoth-E-

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I'm going to be 38 here soon and here has been my experience.

Technology most of my life was new and quite frankly extremely non user friendly or outright broken for most of that time. I was forced to adapt and learn to expect nothing to work quite exactly how the marketers claimed it would. As such I built up a wealth of knowledge and the ability to adapt when something doesn't work as intended.

The younger generations haven't had that experience. They have had technology where the user experience was highly refined in most cases and they have been bombarded with "It just works". Now sure I like to bag on them and call them lazy and entitled and that is true about some. However most are just lacking experience because quite honestly tech for their generation has in fact been better.

That said, fuck the lazy entitled ones.
 

nutzo

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We're getting to the point were older folks have had tech in their lives for most it and have simply had to do more adapting than younger people. So this seems reasonable to me. So much has changed in the 25 years I've been in this business and you just learn to roll with it if you're any good.

The older generation believes in doing work, and job security. They roll with the changes because it is their work ethics. The younger crowd loves shit handed to them on a silver platter, and if they have to make that shit themselves, they bitch and complain.


A little bit of both.

I've been in this industry since the Apple II days, so I've worked on just about everything. My knowledge is a mile wide AND a mile deep.
Someone who has only been working for a few year just doesn't have the background.
Even though I'm the internal IT guy, I work with our customer support people lots of times when they have customers with what appears to be system problems.


I've seen to many "younger" people who consider their social life, Facebook, etc. much more important than doing their job.
They also have unrealistic expectations when it comes to software and systems.

Why can't I have a Mac Laptop?
(our software doesn't work on a Mac and it costs over twice as much and the laptop you are getting)

Why doesn't my laptop have a high end 3d card?
(You don't need a 3d card for Outlook and other office software. You also should not be installing games on company equipment)

Why can't I download movies while I'm at the office?
(the Internet bandwidth if for company business, not streaming music or downloading illegal movies/software)

Do you have a copy of Office I can put on my home systems?
(No. Company software if only for company owned equipment.)

Why are we still using Windows 7 and why are we still using this old software?
(If the company had to spend money to replace the custom software you are using, they would likely decide close your department instead due to the low profit margins)
 

macksomerville

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Far too often I've found kids that "think" they KNOW technology, because they can Snapchat. Ask them to install a usb driver on a laptop, not so much ;)

They've bought into their own hype
 

Kor

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The younger generations haven't had that experience. They have had technology where the user experience was highly refined in most cases and they have been bombarded with "It just works". Now sure I like to bag on them and call them lazy and entitled and that is true about some. However most are just lacking experience because quite honestly tech for their generation has in fact been better.
This is basically it in a nut shell. You have a generation of people who had to adapt (ok often poorly) and then you have the ones where everything happens behind the scenes. The small block of people aged 30-45 are the ones in the sweet spot as far as I've experienced, they've been around for the meaty part of the evolution of end user computing. They've known the pain of the 80's and 90's and grew up on it.
 

USMCGrunt

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I think millennials get a bad rap for being lazy and entitled (Though, as the saying goes, there's always that one). There are a lot of different variables at play that I've seen mentioned a few times here such as modern refined software or an expectation of it to 'just work'.

I heard an explanation last night, on a post-baseball radio show of all things, that I thought was really great. Today's kids and young adults have had immediate access to any and all knowledge they've ever wanted. What they don't see though is all the work that has to be put in to get that average statistical number they've read about. I'm 31 and my parents didn't do a shit job raising me but it took me well into my 20s for it to sink in that you gotta put your time in and take your licks. It was especially difficult on me in the Corps. where I could excel at things but was pushed down because I didn't have the rank/experience that another Marine had.
 

dgz

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Heh, it's like people born in certain years have different DNA or something. What a bunch of crap. Divide and conquer all over again.
 

USMCGrunt

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Heh, it's like people born in certain years have different DNA or something. What a bunch of crap. Divide and conquer all over again.
Adaptability isn't specifically encoded into DNA but age does have an effect on a person's WILLINGNESS to adapt. Older people are notorious for refusing to adapt, nowhere more anecdotally evident than with technology. This article/study challenges this widely accepted notion and turns it on its head pointing to millennials being the oil in the water.
 

jbltecnicspro

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I'm going to be 38 here soon and here has been my experience.

Technology most of my life was new and quite frankly extremely non user friendly or outright broken for most of that time. I was forced to adapt and learn to expect nothing to work quite exactly how the marketers claimed it would. As such I built up a wealth of knowledge and the ability to adapt when something doesn't work as intended.

The younger generations haven't had that experience. They have had technology where the user experience was highly refined in most cases and they have been bombarded with "It just works". Now sure I like to bag on them and call them lazy and entitled and that is true about some. However most are just lacking experience because quite honestly tech for their generation has in fact been better.

That said, fuck the lazy entitled ones.

I think you nailed it. It's one of the reasons why I'm seriously considering starting my son off on a DOS box, so that hey can figure things out, learn the command line, and actually put in work to get his software up and running. The great thing about newer tech is that it's much more refined than it ever has been, and now for the most part (as you said) - it just works. This creates more abstraction layers in between the user and the machine so that nowadays the user has no clue WTF he's doing. I see it all the time now - if something breaks, the user is as clueless as possible. Whereas back then, having the machine break was just a part of life. :)
 

IceDigger

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What I have noticed in the tech field is the younger generation seems to be stuck constantly looking at their phones than doing their jobs.
 

DukenukemX

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If you up on Windows 3.1/95 and death with PC hardware that required you to play with dip switches and jumpers, you have a somewhat understanding on what goes on behind the curtain. If you grew up on tablets and Windows Vista/7 then you have no idea what's going on. This is something I predicted cause we're conditioned to not understand how things work. This is why things like Raspberry Pi and Linux are so great, cause they teach you how computer systems work.
 
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It's strange that this idea persists that anyone older than 40 years is probably ignorant of computer technology. Most everyone who isn't old enough to draw SS has dealt with it their entire adult lives. I was learning BASIC on my C64 as a child.
 

jbltecnicspro

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If you up on Windows 3.1/95 and death with PC hardware that required you to play with dip switches and jumpers, you have a somewhat understanding on what goes on behind the curtain. If you grew up on tablets and Windows Vista/7 then you have no idea what's going on. This is something I predicted cause we're conditioned to not understand how things work. This is why things like Raspberry Pi and Linux are so great, cause they teach you how computer systems work.

I'm not sure it's conditioning. I think it was always the goal of software engineering to make something so easy to use that anyone could do it without knowing anything about it. I think that what we're seeing here is a nasty side-effect of good software engineering. :D
 

jbltecnicspro

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It's strange that this idea persists that anyone older than 40 years is probably ignorant of computer technology. Most everyone who isn't old enough to draw SS has dealt with it their entire adult lives. I was learning BASIC on my C64 as a child.

Yep, and as a result, you're way more adaptable because you actually worked with the system back then. Hell, even if BASIC was a higher-level language, you still know more than most of my generation.
 

NukeDukem

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Baby boomers have the TV raise their Millennial children and wonder why the generation is screwed up. Look on the bright side older workers, you will get your Social Security while the under 30 crowd will find out what a massive Ponzi scheme the entire thing was.
 

dgz

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Adaptability isn't specifically encoded into DNA but age does have an effect on a person's WILLINGNESS to adapt. Older people are notorious for refusing to adapt, nowhere more anecdotally evident than with technology. This article/study challenges this widely accepted notion and turns it on its head pointing to millennials being the oil in the water.

But older people do have a harder time learning and I believe experience is the most likely the leading reason. Never mind that learning things literally hurts/is more exhausting when you're past childhood, it's the unlearning process that gets in your way the most IMO.
 

steakman1971

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My first computer was a C64 - no disk drive, no cassette player (yeah!), - one game cartridge and a BASIC manual. After I got bored of the game (quickly), I started reading and using the BASIC manual. I was probably 12 or 13 at the time? I spent a lot of time typing. Damn, once powered off there was no way to save your program. I eventually cut enough lawns/delivered enough newspapers to buy a cassette recorder. Big times! The whole time, I had to teach myself all of this. Remember, we couldn't Google anything or watch a YouTube video.
I bought a modem at some point and learned a lot. I made a bunch of friends (with who I'm still good friends - they were all in my city, but never would have met them otherwise). I later got an Amiga - same deal, had to teach yourself a lot. Anyone write a custom disk to boot AmigaOS to save a little memory/add disk compression? Yet again, bought a PC in college.
I remember hacking around with emm386.exe and himem.sys to play a few games.
So, my teenage years and adult years have been nothing but tech. I took computer science in college. I worked on UNIX computers, VAX, DOS, Windows, Linux, Mac - learned BASIC, Turtle BASIC (HesWare!), C, C++, Pascal, Ada, Java, Objective-C, Perl, Bash, Sh, PCRE, etc....see a pattern? I'm always doing something new. I think you have to learn how to figure things out.
I work with a lot of college age students. Some of them have this - absolutely. Most, however, grew up with a Nintendo. You plugged in the cartridge and played your games. Where is the learning in that? A lot of these kids get frustrated so quickly - i think that is where they stumble. They don't know how to keep at it and not get frustrated. Hell, I have lost days of work and had to do it from memory again. Anyone ever bungle up a kernel back in the early days of Linux? I once was adding an additional SID chip to my C64 and melted part of the motherboard...that was a bad day.
 

OldBuzzard

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But older people do have a harder time learning and I believe experience is the most likely the leading reason. ...

BALDERDASH!

If anything, experience helps us 'older people' learn.

For instance, back when I was in my 50s, I decided to learn how to program PLCs. Turned out the it was danged easy as the ladder logic used was similar to the RPG programming I was doing in my mid 20s.

I'm 70 now, and if I decided that I wanted to learn a new language, it wouldn't be that hard as I have the basics that I learned when I was writing IBM Assembler language for the IBM 360 series and NEAT 3 on the NCR Century series.
 

jbltecnicspro

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BALDERDASH!

If anything, experience helps us 'older people' learn.

For instance, back when I was in my 50s, I decided to learn how to program PLCs. Turned out the it was danged easy as the ladder logic used was similar to the RPG programming I was doing in my mid 20s.

I'm 70 now, and if I decided that I wanted to learn a new language, it wouldn't be that hard as I have the basics that I learned when I was writing IBM Assembler language for the IBM 360 series and NEAT 3 on the NCR Century series.

You may be our oldest member... We should do a contest
 
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There's a certain truth to younger people being annoyed by older tech. I mean, when you're using the latest and greatest at home then come into using a Core 2 system with XP and a 5400 RPM drive at work you want to throttle the system for those constant hangs where it's seeking data on the drive. I know I'm guilty of that as I have been using SSDs in my systems for roughly 5 years now. Using a more modern OS on a mechanical drive is quite painful with all of the constant pulling from the drive and how programs are so much larger leading to at times quite long load times with those mechanical drives. When you're used to that level of fluidity going back really is noticeable. For many of the older generations they still have those older systems running, and so don't feel the frustration of the younger and more tech fluid crowd. I think that's one of the main issues at work here anyway I think. Businesses are notorious for dragging their feet to upgrade.
 

travbrad

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It actually makes a lot of sense. Older people are probably more likely to have experience with technology/software in the past that was actually difficult/complicated to use, so that experience probably serves them well when encountering new technology/software. They'll still hate anything new/different in most cases, but they will learn it if they have to.

Young people never had to do anything other than tap an icon on a screen unless they were computer geeks. Now GET OFF MY LAWN!
 
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