While most individuals wish to remain employed for a long time, certain barriers prevent them from doing so. Employment keeps a person mentally active and can utilize their unique skill set and experience to contribute to the workforce. However, discrimination in the form of ageism has been a long-time problem for such employees. Ageism in the workplace can have far-reaching impacts on the individual and the business. In this article, we will take an in-depth look at ageism, how it impacts your business and how to deal with ageism in the workplace.
What Is Ageism in the Workplace
In simple terms, ageism is a type of prejudice based on someone’s age, both younger and older. Ageism in the workplace can be observed at many levels. We may find age-appropriate employees being provided additional perks, renegotiated salaries, training weeks, etc. On the other hand, salary and career opportunities may be nonexistent for older workers.
Age discrimination in the workplace can also be observed in the negative attitude of employees of a certain age. Such an attitude can be seen in verbal put-downs, encouraging retirement due to the age factor and act of firing, among others.
How Ageism Affects Your Business
Any workplace discrimination can harm an individual’s physical and mental health. However, ageism in the workplace can directly impact the day-to-day operations of an organization.
Limits Experience in the Workforce
Ageism can directly impact the workforce. While younger workers possess all the zeal, they may lack the professional knowledge possessed by older workers. Since the aging workforce has spent a lot of time polishing their skills, they are much more confident regarding the company’s day-to-day affairs. Ageism in the workplace means your business may miss out on this experience. Not only can your business fall behind, but you may also damage relationships with clients due to age discrimination in the workplace.
Increased Turnover Rates
Your business might see higher turnover rates if you discriminate against employees of a particular age. If the turnover amongst older employees is high, employees who have witnessed such discrimination are also likely to look for other work options.
Workplace discrimination at any level can give a bad reputation to the business. For example, if job advertisements use ageist terms like ‘young workers,’ a large portion of the talent pool is sidestepped. Age discrimination in the workplace may also prove that the business lacks integrity. Additionally, clients might view your business negatively due to the lack of experienced workers.
Workplace discrimination in the form of ageism is against the law in several countries. Hence the company is likely to invite legal trouble by committing such acts.
Promotes Negative Work Culture
Once the senior employees realize they are being targeted negatively, it may create a sense of distrust among them. If employees from different generations cannot find a middle ground, negative work culture will likely develop. This is highly detrimental to the business. While there would be no collaboration among the employees, it may also limit growth opportunities.
Read Also: 10 Tips to Encourage Mindfulness in the Workplace – WomLEAD Magazine
Age discrimination in the workplace can also limit your productivity. Due to such workplace discrimination, the affected employees are likely to feel devalued and uncomfortable. Such emotions create a barrier to productivity. Once the employees feel undervalued, their output and work quality diminish.
Ageism in the workplace hardly ever goes unnoticed. If other employees witness it first-hand or even hear about it from others, they are likely to be affected. This results in lower morale, making it hard for the workforce to perform.
Reduces Mentorship Opportunities
A diverse workforce is likely to promote mentorship. There are a few things that the older crew can learn from younger workers. Younger workers can provide them with modern tips and information about their area of expertise. On the other hand, from data related to customer service or even life advice, older workers can provide valuable insight to the younger generation. However, ageism in the workplace may prohibit such mentorship opportunities.
How To Deal with Ageism in the Workplace
There are numerous ways to deal with ageism in the workplace. Here are some of them for your reference:
Speak To HR
One way of dealing with ageism in the workplace is by talking to your HR. Ageism can often be a result of employees not spending time together. You can speak to your HR and find ways to know other employees personally. Bonding exercises, boot camps, and company lunches can help eliminate such workplace discrimination.
Education and Training
While stereotyping tends to become second nature, workplace training can teach us not to act upon such immediate stereotypes. Organizations can also educate employees about their coworkers and their strengths and weaknesses. Such education can help eliminate false assumptions that most employees have for one another.
Consult Mentor Group
A multi-generational mentor group can provide you with all the necessary steps you can incorporate to eliminate ageism in the workplace. Studies suggest that when employees across multiple generations interact, ageism is likely lessened among them.
While more and more people wish to be retained in their so-called golden years, ageism is likely to be an issue that might affect business across multiple sectors in the coming years. Hence, a company can eliminate ageism in the workplace by looking into the abovementioned points.
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