Ageism is the act of discriminating and stereotyping people based on their age group and life stage, holding prejudice against them in relation to their knowledge, performance, and decision-making capabilities. It is often regarded as age discrimination by most people.
Ageism is very much ubiquitous in workplaces these days. From recruitment notices to job responsibilities, they receive unfair treatment from hiring managers everywhere. In fact, when they are at their colleagues' houses for any particular invitation when the situation requires them to contribute to a particular consensus regarding the jobs, their verdicts or opinions are often trivialized and neglected. Let’s look at how ageism inflicts trouble on aged applicants.
How Can Ageism Cause Job Discrimination?
Although it may not be tangible at a glimpse, ageism affects the workplace almost every day. Here are some of the job discriminations caused by ageism.
1. Hiring Process
The very first evidence of ageism is in the job application forms and employee screening, where companies now mostly look for young, energetic, flexible, tech-savvy applicants and fresh graduates.
A lot of companies also don’t want to risk the turnover cost of hiring older employees, making it less accessible for experienced workers to contribute to the growth of the company. Making use of the judgment of such foresighted employees is a must for companies to see growth and a potential future.
2. Lack of Job Appreciation
In the workplace nowadays, only the younger employees get appreciated for any good work or are guided properly for any confusion they face. This is often overlooked in the case of older employees, which ultimately depreciates their contributions.
3. Retirement Pressure and Questionable Layoffs
Some businesses technically put retirement pressure on older employees by not giving them promotions or ignoring their performance appraisals. Laying off older employees is a common practice now, regardless of their promising performance and contribution to the company’s betterment.
4. Exclusion From Important Meetings and Outings
Managers now prioritize younger executives over experienced employees for taking or accepting any suggestion relating to the company's future, as on numerous occasions, younger people bring fresh ideas to the table. Besides, others deem older employees a nuisance, thus writing them off from after-office outings. All of these suffice to demotivate the experienced yet older workers, making them switch jobs, relinquish their current position, or go for early retirement.
5. Teasing About Age
Older employees often become a subject of ridicule because of their age, as people stereotype them to be backdated. This has a negative effect on these people. However, what people rarely realize is that older employees can be great guides for less experienced employees.
What Are the Consequences of Ageism at the Workplace?
You may think that ageism has little effect on organizations. But in reality, the consequences hit hard deeply. From dropping the quality of the company to facing unwanted lawsuits, let’s look at some of the dreadful consequences.
One of the consequences of age discrimination is unwanted lawsuits. What many people don’t realize is that age discrimination in the workplace is against the law.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), forbids ageism against employees 40 years or older. Employees can file an EEOC claim with sizable fines, which may affect the company’s reputation badly.
2. Creates a Negative Impression
When a company doesn’t create equal opportunities in its space for everyone, including older people, it creates a negative impression on the forthcoming applicants. This affects the value of the company, and it sees lesser applications from an experienced work pool.
3. Lack of Experience in the Workforce
A lack of older, experienced employees means a lack of growth in the company and among employees. The younger employees will lack knowledge, and the managerial positions will lack experience, affecting the overall performance of the company.
4. Fewer Mentorship Opportunities
Senior employees established in niche fields and experienced with soft skills are assets to an organization. They have buckets of knowledge from which everyone in the workplace can benefit, especially through mentorship opportunities.
5. Low Morale in the Workplace
Age discrimination affects everyone, not just the older generations. There isn’t much opportunity to learn from experienced people, whether it’s younger people gaining knowledge from the older generation, or the senior employees learning about software from the young people.
How Can You Combat Ageism in Your Workplace?
The first step to this solution, of course, has to come from the employers. Remember the movie The Intern, where the company took the initiative to hire senior citizens as interns in a company full of young people? It allowed a lot of learning scope and boosted work morale.
Employers now can take this as an example to create a shift in their work environment. This will create learning opportunities, and there will also be more diversity.
Senior employees should be praised as much as younger employees for their contributions.
Besides these, training people on age discrimination and how to overcome it should be made mandatory. This will prepare the young employees to work in harmony with the seniors. Besides, laws should be strictly implemented in spaces that discriminate based on age and other factors.