Today’s workforce mainly comprises three distinct generations; Gen Xers, Millennials, and Gen Zs. The high pervasiveness of ageism in the workplace has brought forth the notion of it being “socially acceptable” and has become part of the norm for some traditional organizations.
The older generation of the global workforce wants to remain longer in their current jobs. Still, discrimination and outdated principles make being tenured in the organization a tricky premise for many experienced employees. Prominent acts of ageism are only expected to get more critical as the number of older professionals grows.
Ageism, for the most part, is still regarded as a form of discrimination. Though not as prevalent as race or sexual orientation, the fact that prejudice against people based on age has existed for many years means there is a problem and should be eradicated now. Diversity training that covers topics such as implicit bias, respect, and team collaboration will go a long way toward creating a solid and inclusive workplace.
Human Resources plays a significant role in guaranteeing that ageism at work doesn’t happen. Most resumes are short discourses of a candidate’s work history. Most list everything they have done that they feel is important. However, when candidates get to the interview, many older professionals think their age will be used as a discriminating determinant.
“We value everyone’s contribution regardless of their age or how short, or long they have worked in the industry.”
HR Business Partner
Omni Channel Solutions’ HR Business Partner, Belle Torres, considers ageism one of the most significant discriminating factors in talent acquisition, internal mobility, and team collaboration. “It exacerbates disadvantages and creates barriers for growth and learning. It can erode solidarity between generations and devalue our abilities to benefit from what younger and older people can contribute and teach us”.
She believes that discrimination in the workplace comes in many forms, which the organization should address before onboarding new hires.
“All forms of prejudice in the workplace are highly discouraged. We make sure of this first by putting policies in place that would sanction and correct the behavior of anyone who would display discrimination of any kind. We protect our mental health; hence, it is also part of our mental health policy to not discriminate against any person regardless of age, gender, disability, political beliefs, social status, civil status, even past experiences.” she added.
There are six effective ways to prevent ageism at work. This will create an inclusive environment in ensuring a productive and healthy workplace for all its members.
- Offer Training Opportunities.
All training programs for new hires and tenured team members, such as leadership, diversity and inclusion, sensitivity, etc., must cover ageism in the workplace as many people lack knowledge in this particular scope. Having someone with significantly more experience than what the job requires is not a disadvantage.
- Professional Growth
When team members perform the same tasks day in and day out with little to no change, there is a huge possibility that they will get bored and soon leave. Most tenured employees also expect that their dedication to growth and self-improvement be rewarded. Giving out well-earned promotions regardless of age is a crucial step in committing to an age-inclusive workforce.
- Social Cues
It is important to watch for social cues in the workplace. There are specific situations that could easily trigger ageism. Mentioning senior moments while often done with affection and in jest, birthday cards that joke about old age, or even stating unnecessary age-shaming remarks can show bias towards older workers. Although seemingly inoffensive, these are frequently the smoking guns in age discrimination lawsuits.
- Open dialogue with team members
Designing a safe space where employees feel protected and sharing concerns and discourse is vital to fighting ageism in the workplace. Fostering open lines of communication is the best way to build trust, show commonality, and break generational boundaries that can occur inadvertently.
- Reverse Mentoring
This is another way to connect various age groups in the organization. It is when younger team members help their mentor or someone older utilize certain technologies, applications, and social networks that are less familiar. Not only does this help close the knowledge gap for both parties, but they are more likely to develop empathic viewpoints and reduce biases.
- Implement mentorship programs.
Besides the aggregation of research to uphold training programs for fresh graduates, such as higher organizational involvement, climbing up the career ladder, and work-related fulfillment, mentorship programs can help lessen age-related tensions. Additionally, the experience and knowledge that team members over 30 bring to an organization are invaluable. These are plausible if they can impart their expertise to the rest of the team.
At Omni Channel Solutions, we encourage our team not to draw on age stereotypes to perceive and understand their colleagues. These actions will eliminate misconceptions, promote empathy, enhance the organization’s culture of collaboration, and uphold respect among members.
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