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Technology in the Workplace: Implications for Older Workers

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Title: Technology in the Workplace: Implications for Older Workers


1
Technology in the Workplace Implications for
Older Workers
  • Sara J. Czaja
  • Dept. of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
  • University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
  • Center for Research on Aging and Technology
    Enhancement

Aging by Design Bentley College October 17 18
2005
2
Acknowledgements
  • National Institute on Aging/National Institutes
    of Health
  • Collaborators
  • Joseph Sharit
  • Sankaran Nair
  • Chin Chin Lee
  • Mario Hernandez
  • Trinidad Arguelles

3
Overview of Presentation
  • Review of recent demographic trends related to
    aging and work
  • Review existing data on aging and work
    performance
  • Discuss the potential implications of workplace
    technologies for older workers
  • Outline areas of needed research

4
Percentage of the Labor Force Age 55, 1950-2025
Source BLS, 2001
5
Labor Force Participation Rates for Older
Workers, by Sex, 1948-2015
Source BLS 2001
6
Factors Influencing Trends in Aging Work and
Retirement
  • Aging of the baby boomers
  • Changes in retirement policies and legislation
    (Social Security Act Age Discrimination in
    Employment Act The American with Disabilities
    Act)
  • Slowed growth in the number of younger workers
  • Declines in pension benefits and retiree health
    care coverage
  • Changes in preferences/perceptions of older
    workers

7
Accommodating an Aging Work Force Requires
Understanding
  • The characteristics of the older work force
  • The potential implications of aging for work
  • The characteristics of existing jobs and work
    environments

8
Who are the Elderly?
  • The elderly as a group are healthier, more
    diverse and better educated than previous
    generations
  • Percentage of older adults (65) with a high
    school degree and higher education is increasing.

9
Who are the Elderly ?
  • The older population is becoming more ethnically
    diverse.
  • Number of older people reporting good health and
    physical functioning is increasing.
  • However the likelihood of developing a chronic
    condition or functional impairment increases with
    age.

10
Chronic Illness and the U.S. Population
Male
Female
Source Trend watch Chronic illness and the
aging U.S. population, Clinical Geriatrics, 7(7),
1999.
11
Age-related Changes in Abilities that have
Relevance to Work
  • Slower response times
  • Movement control limitations
  • Declines in vision and audition
  • Declines in attention
  • Declines in working memory
  • Difficulty multi- tasking

12
Potential Implications of Aging for Work
Activities
13
Some Caveats . . .
  • Aging is associated with substantial variability
    and older adults as a group are very
    heterogeneous.
  • Older workers and retirees in their midcourse
    years (50s, 60s, and early 70s) are typically
    different from those in their late 70s, 80s,
    90s.
  • Predictions about a persons ability to learn a
    new skill or perform a job should be based on
    abilities relative to demands as opposed to
    chronological age.

14
Aging and Work Performance
  • Data on aging and actual work performance is
    limited especially for technology-based jobs.
  • Many of the available studies on aging and work
    involve small samples, restricted age ranges or
    cross-sectional study designs.
  • Overall, there is little evidence to suggest that
    overall productivity declines with age.

15
Aging and Work Performance
  • Relationship between aging and productivity
    depends on the type of performance measure, type
    of job, job experience, and training.
  • Older workers tend to have lower accident rates
    than younger workers however, if injured they
    tend to have longer recovery times.
  • Older workers have lower absenteeism and turnover
    rates than younger people.

16
Characteristics of Existing Work Environments
17
Technology and Work
  • In 2001, 72.3 million workers (53.5) used a
    computer at work.
  • Computer occupations will account for 8 out the
    20 fastest growing jobs.
  • Use of technology is becoming more prevalent
    across most occupations (e.g., managerial and
    professional workers, sales, administrative
    support personnel, customer service
    representatives).
  • The incidence of telecommuting is increasing. In
    2000, 44 million workers in the United States
    engaged in some form of telecommuting.

18
Use Computer, Internet / E-Mail at Work, as a
Percent of Employed Persons Age 25
Source NTIA and ESA, U.S. Department of
Commerce, using U.S. Census Bureau Current
Population Survey Supplements
19
Potential Implications of Technology for an Aging
Work Force
  • Negative Implications
  • Technology-based tasks place a greater emphasis
    on cognitive abilities.
  • Advances in technology imply that workers need to
    learn new skills and to interact with new
    systems.
  • Current job skills and knowledge become obsolete.
  • Usability problems create barriers to access.

20
Cognitive Abilities Important to Performance of
Technology-Based Tasks
21
Potential Implications of Technology for an Aging
Work Force
  • Positive Implications
  • Technology reduces the physical demands of jobs.
  • Technology makes work at home and flexible work
    schedules and arrangements more likely options.
  • Adaptive technologies may make work more viable
    for older people.
  • Technology such as multi-media systems may be
    effective learning tools for older adults.

22
Examples of Adaptive Technologies by Disability
Type
23
Critical Question
  • Given age-related changes in abilities and cohort
    differences in exposure to technology, will older
    adults be able to successfully adapt to the new
    technology-based work environment?

24
Older Adults and Attitudes Towards Computer
Technology
  • In general, findings indicate that older adults
    have positive attitudes towards computers.
  • Older people generally report less comfort with
    computers and less computer confidence than
    younger people.
  • Experience with computers generally result in
    more positive attitudes.

25
Comfort and Efficacy by Age Group
Source Czaja, S. J. Sharit, J. (1998). Age
Differences in Attitudes Toward Computers.
Journal of Gerontology Psychological Sciences,
53B, 329-340.
26
Comfort Subscale by Age Group by Time Period
27
Use of a Computer at Work by Gender and Age, 2001
Source NTIA and ESA, U.S. Department of
Commerce, using U.S. Census Bureau Current
Population Survey Supplements
28
Internet Use by Age by Year
Source UCLA Center for Communication Policy
(February, 2003). The UCLA Internet Report
Surveying the Digital Future Year Three.
Available on-line http//www/digitalcenter.org/pd
f/InternetReportYearThree.pdf.
29
Older Adults and Acquisition of Computer Skills
  • Older adults are able to learn to use computers
    and other forms of technology.
  • Older people may require more practice.
  • Older people require more time to learn new
    concepts and procedures.
  • Older people may benefit from environmental
    support aids.

30
Older People and Computer Task Performance
  • Older people are able to successfully interact
    with technology to perform tasks.
  • Older people typically take longer time to
    perform basic tasks.
  • Older people may use less efficient procedures.

31
S. Czaja, J. Sharit, and Colleagues (1998, 1999,
2001, 2002, 2004)
  • Examined age performance (20-75 yrs) differences
    on a variety of computer-based tasks including
  • Data entry (transportation industry)
  • Customer service representative (health insurance
    industry)
  • Accounts balancing (banking industry)
  • Tele-Commuting (customer service rep.)

32
Overall the Data Indicated
  • The older adults were willing and able to perform
    the tasks
  • The older adults generally achieved lower levels
    of performance
  • Performance improved with experience for all age
    groups
  • There was substantial variability in performance
    among the older adults
  • Prior computer experience and component cognitive
    abilities were important predictors of performance

33
Data Entry Task
Information Search and Retrieval Task
Account Balancing Task
Transactions Balanced/Hour
34
Number of Inquiries Correctly Navigated
35
Intervention for Data Entry Task
  • Redesign of Data Entry Forms
  • Reorganization of information
  • Highlighting of task relevant information
  • Redesign of Data Entry Screens
  • Reorganization of information to create
    consistent mapping with form
  • Unidirectional information flow
  • On-screen prompting
  • Elimination of irrelevant data fields

36
Keystroke Errors Per Trip Record
37
Conclusions
  • Older adults are willing and able to participate
    in todays work environment.
  • There is little evidence to suggest that aging is
    associated with declines in job performance.
  • However
  • More detailed information is needed on the
    relationship between age-related changes in
    abilities and actual work performance.
  • More data is needed on the work performance of
    older adults in actual work settings.

38
Conclusions
  • More information is need on the role of
    experience and compensatory strategies in work
    performance.
  • More detailed information is needed on the work
    preferences of older adults.
  • Studies are needed to how job and workplace
    design interventions and adaptive technologies
    can be used to enhance employment for older
    people.
  • Studies are needed to identify training
    strategies that are effective for older people
    and how technology can be used as a training
    tool.
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