Grandad, the Waitrose App and what it means for recruitment marketing

November 20, 2023

Blimey! My Dad’s been strong-armed into getting one of those, in his own words “blasted smartphones”. Why? A free cuppa from the Waitrose app, would you believe it!

Watching my dad try to work his newfangled mobile has been equal parts amusing and alarming, especially for my sons. From faffing about with the touchscreen to accidentally zooming in on photos, every moment has been a right misery for the poor bloke. Now I know getting a free coffee through an app might seem trivial to some, but for my dad it’s a sign he’s reluctantly having to move with the times. They’re getting rid of the physical coffee loyalty cards, you see, and you can only get the freebies through the app now.

He doesn’t want the app. He doesn’t do his shopping on it.  He just wants to do his weekly shop with mum, get a coffee and scone after, and toddle off home. Same as last week and the next.

It’s important to realise my dad’s hesitation about technology makes good sense. In his heyday as an electrical engineer, smartphones and apps were pure science fiction. He managed his work (he had two employers his whole career, loyal to each for donkey’s years) without computers or mobile phones, relying on face-to-face interactions and paperwork. The difference between his work and personal life back then and the technology-driven world now is stark.

In a world where cashless payments and digital communication are the norm, my dad’s preference for tills, cash, and cheques might seem charmingly old-fashioned, but it also highlights a growing concern. As society charges into the digital age, there’s a risk of excluding those who struggle to keep up. My dad’s difficulties show we need to take care not to marginalise a whole generation just because they lack tech skills.

Why should we care about the elderly transitioning to technology? It’s not just about preserving the past; it’s about empathy and foresight. While online banking and contactless payment feel completely normal to us now, we must remember in a few decades these technologies could seem as outdated as paper cheques and postal orders do today. The obstacles my dad faces currently could easily become my hurdles tomorrow if we don’t build bridges across the divide.

Picture yourself four decades from now, grappling with technology that makes today’s smartphones look ancient. Just as my dad stands at a crossroads, we too could struggle to adapt. By helping older generations transition to the digital world, while also ensuring they aren’t forced into it, we not only honour their contributions but also create a norm where each generation assists the next, ensuring support for the inevitable challenges ahead.

My dad’s miserable experience with a smartphone and the Waitrose app is a reminder that technological progress is relentless and unforgiving. While we celebrate innovation and advancement, let’s also remember to lend a hand to those left adrift in the currents of change. The digital divide isn’t just about preserving sentimentality; it’s about enabling smooth transitions for generations to come. After all, today’s digital pioneers could easily become tomorrow’s digital dinosaurs.

In recruitment marketing, this story highlights the importance of empathy and understanding when engaging candidates of all ages. Just as we aim to bridge the technology gap for older individuals, recruiters must also tailor their approaches to accommodate applicants across generations. Recognising the diverse experiences and backgrounds candidates bring ensures a more inclusive and successful recruitment strategy.