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What is Ageism in the workplace and ways to prevent it

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream” – C.S.Lewis

We convince ourselves that age is just a number, but that number does become a barrier when it comes to looking for work or attempting to advance professionally. We say workplace discrimination has been eradicated during the last century and the new generation of employers and employees have been receiving adequate training regarding the benefits of an inclusive workplace and yet there is still active age discrimination in the workplace. Ageism is an issue which extends in our society. Ageist ideologies are widely held and supported through various mediums, particularly the media. Indeed, population ageing is a defining feature which affects almost every country.

One of the biggest causes of discrimination in recruiting and terminating employees is still ageism. It is a problem that many Canadian businesses are struggling with. This makes it essential for us to understand the legal consequences of employment age discrimination. Here’s giving you a look on what ageism in the workplace is and some ways to prevent it.

What is Ageism?

Ageism refers to the stereotypes (how we think), prejudice (how we feel), and discrimination (how we act) towards others or oneself based on age. Ageism in the workplace is a practice of treating older employees unfairly or with greater discrimination from younger employees.

It can show up in many forms including:

Ø  Hiring procedures which give younger applicants an edge over older.

Ø  Paying older workers less or preventing them from receiving promotions or training.

Ø  Stereotypes that older workers are less capable, more inflexible, or more unproductive than younger ones.

Ø  Forcing older employees into retirement or dismissing them for reasons other than performance or business needs.

Ageism can have an impact on a person’s mental health, general well-being, and financial stability. Additionally, it can affect organizations by making it harder for them to find experienced and qualified staff, harming their reputation and making it harder for them to find and keep diverse talent.

The Human Rights Code in many Canadian provinces and territories shields employees and applicants against this type of discrimination. For instance, the Ontario human rights commission has a policy that forbids employers from rejecting a candidate for training, promotion, or employment on the basis of that candidate’s age. A person cannot be signaled out by the employer for dismissal, corporate reconstructing or workforce reduction based only on their age, according to the code. An employer is required under this code to maintain an inclusive workplace.

“The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) prohibits discrimination in all forms of employment against anyone 40 years to older. The ADEA intends to prevent discrimination and provide equal employment opportunities under areas of employment that were not explicitly covered in Title VII of the civil rights Act of 1964 (Title VII)”.

For HR experts, it might be challenging to spot the indications of ageism. At times, what is obviously discriminatory might seem to be supported by fairgrounds. The resumes of individuals with more experience are rejected because they are “probably cost-prohibited” and “over-qualified”. Examples of discriminatory practices that can subtly become the norm include not offering training chances or putting an employee on a task force for new technology because it is assumed that they are not up to date with it.

Preventing Ageism in the Workplace:

 Avoid Making Assumptions:

Assuming ageism can result in misunderstandings and unneeded conflict. As an alternative, it’s critical to approach the employee with an open mind and acquire data from several sources, including staff, management, and industry expenses. Additionally, it’s critical to refrain from generalizing about people based on their age. Age need not to be a factor in determining a person’s skills, passion, or work ethic. Regardless of age, treating individuals with respect and fairness is crucial for fostering a supportive and effective working culture. It is detrimental to employee morale and productivity to assume that senior workers are counting down the days until retirement, are uninterested in picking up new skills and that the incumbent will go right away for something better. Additionally, it exposes your company to possible legal concerns. Be aware of the intricacies and urge hiring managers to investigate further when screening candidates.  

Offer training and Promotional Activities:

Ensure that ageism in the workplace is covered in all given training programs, including those of new hires, leaders, diversity and inclusion, sensitivity, etc. to the employees. Having an employee with more experience than the position calls for is not a disadvantage. In the competitive hiring environment of today, inviting more candidates and communicating this desire to hiring managers and organizational leadership can only improve hiring. Regardless of the candidate’s level of technological proficiency, make sure training is included in the onboarding process. It’s beneficial to provide continuing coaching and instruction, as well as give employees the option of routinely reviewing what they’ve learned.

Hiring and advancement opportunities:

Age prejudices are frequently evident like specific codewords can be found in job descriptions. Older applicants are obviously not the target market when recruiting managers mention “recent grad” or demand “rockstar” energy. Similarly using the phrase “seasoned professional” can turn off younger applicants. Despite what their career paths may actually look like, this use of language excludes people of a particular age from consideration. Both a younger candidate with great leadership skills and an older career switcher willing to begin in an entry-level post have no chance of success.

Age Diverse Culture:

Organizations must encourage an age-diverse culture since a multigenerational workforce offers a far wider range of talents and viewpoints. Organizations can make changes to their employment procedures as well as other actions to promote a community that is inclusive of people of all ages.

Develop mentoring programs that span generations. These programs match older and younger employees, giving them both the chance to serve as a mentor and mentee. As knowledge and experience are shared, encouraging people of different generations to learn from one another can help dispel outdated beliefs about age.

Social Cues at Workplace:

Equally crucial is keeping an eye out for social indicators at work. Birthday cards that make age-related jokes and mention of senior moments, even when done with love and humor, might be indicators of bias against older workers. These might seem unimportant, yet they are frequently the key evidence in age discrimination cases.

Federal and provincial regulations alone won’t completely end ageism in the workplace. Change must begin from the ground up, and businesses must also take the initiative. Developing a varied and inclusive workplace contributes to the creation of a morally upright environment for workers from all demographics. The firm will advance by being proactive in establishing an organizational culture that strengthens relationships between people, notwithstanding differences. This will naturally have an impact on growth, retention, engagement, and innovation.

Allow HR4U to help create a more inclusive and age-diverse culture at your workplace >>>