Adult Learning: Retain Your Workforce

  • Synergistx Synergistx
  • Updated:
adult learning

Misunderstanding of adult learning is all too common. In fact, western society once wrongly thought that adults did not learn. If you question a group about why adults cannot learn; it may shock you how many begin answering the question without first challenging the assumption. Unfortunately, many adults deny themselves the valuable experience of education simply because they assume they are too old to learn.


As Forbes points out, “Training leads older employees to keep working.”  Similarly, ignoring training opportunities for this group leads to the loss of corporate tribal knowledge. Add to this that, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; “The fastest growing age group in the older category over the 2004–14 period was the 65-to-74-year-olds.”

In short, do not ignore the retention of older employees. Take the time needed to address this cohort properly. Below, we will take a high-level look at adult learning specific concepts.

Adult Learning Phases

When we discuss learning, we often focus on the developmental stages that children go through as they grow up. Adults also go through developmental stages, typically grouped chronologically or sociologically. There is a vast difference between life-cycle phases and developmental stages, however. Life-cycle phases are phases that people experience on the road from birth to death. They are not part of a continuous flow toward growth and maturity. Developmental stages relate to personality or ego development. While phases and stages may influence one another, they are definitely not the same thing.

Adult Learning Success Factors

As people grow and develop, they accrue an increasing wealth of experience. This becomes an invaluable learning resource, for both themselves and others. In addition, people attach more meaning to the learning gained from hands-on experience than those they acquire passively. Therefore, the primary learning techniques in adult education are experiential ones. Examples of these are laboratory experiments, discussion, problem-solving cases, and field experiences.

Success in adult learning is dependent on the learner and lesson planner. Learners must see education as a vital in developing increased knowledge and ability. Likewise, the lesson planner has a responsibility to create conditions and procedures targeting the way adults learn.

Continuous learning, no matter what your age, has many benefits. It could be finding and maintaining the job of your dreams. When it comes to adult learners, it may be remaining fully engaged in life in your twilight years. Assisting your adult learners achieve the latter enriches not only their lives, but also improves your team.

Do you still have questions about adult learning, and how you can help?