Age discrimination is a problem for every industry, regardless of how big or small the organisation is. Suppose you look at the data in every sector regarding age discrimination. In that case, you will notice that many said that they were discriminated against due to their age, even during the recruitment process. Some would say they were pushed to the sidelines during large projects and promotions as the companies would instead give it to the younger workers.
When you ask companies about it, they say that ageism doesn’t exist and have policies against it. However, given the statistics and studies about it, it is clear it remains to be a problem for many companies.
But why does ageism exist in the workplace? Here are several reasons why:
Prejudices and Stereotypes against Older Workers are Common
The first reason ageism exists in the workplace is that there are many stereotypes and prejudices towards older workers considered the “norm”.
For example, younger employees believe that older workers are slow, hard to deal with and won’t keep up with the latest in the industry. In turn, older workers are prejudiced regarding the capacity of their younger colleagues, disabling them from reaching out to the other group.
Anti-discrimination Laws and Policies are not Actively Enforced
While companies do have anti-discrimination laws and policies to counter ageism, it is not actively enforced. Companies do not have a clear distinction between what is ageism and how to help employees report it.
Employees can also be very sly regarding their discriminatory acts against their older coworkers, making it more challenging to catch.
The Definition of Ageism
As mentioned above, the lack of distinction regarding ageism and what actions qualify as ageism disables many in combating it or recognizing it. Some comments may also be considered discriminatory when they could also be interpreted as constructive feedback.
A good example is that if the person is getting input regarding their performance, the feedback can be perceived as slight to their ages if they are slow on the output.
Older people have a Higher Risk of COVID and Other Similar Diseases
With the pandemic creating a massive divide between older and younger employees, companies and younger employees see older people as a risk. It is noted that older workers, especially those over the age of 70, are at risk of COVID-19 and other similar diseases.
If they get sick, the company would have to pay for their medical expenses and other benefits. While these workers are out, the younger employees will have to do their work. Increasing medical expenses means higher insurance rates.
Opportunities for Training are Higher for Younger Employees
Some companies tend to give younger employees the chance to undergo training and workshops because they believe they will pick it up faster than older employees.
However, this situation can backfire as senior employees may have the experience to complement the extra training and benefit the company even more.
Ageism is a problem that all companies must recognise as it can affect the entire company’s operation and everyone’s well-being. When you recognise the signs, you must find ways to combat them because it will be hard to eliminate the practice and cause your older employees to feel unwelcome in the company.
Prejudices and discrimination exist everywhere. Don’t let it affect your place of work and here’s how to do it right:
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