How can we combat ageism at work?
Stay alert, keep an eye out for stereotypes, and don’t make pre-assumptions.
Getting into such a mindset and assuming that your senior workers are counting the remaining days to retire or that the incumbent will quit for a better job is harmful to your company’s overall morale. It also exposes your company to serious legal issues. Pay attention to the details and ask managers to search for the applicants that fit the bill.
1. Provide possibilities for training and promotion.
Keep all of your company’s training programs (e.g., new hiring, leadership, diversity and inclusion, awareness, etc.) up-to-date. Since many employees are unaware of ageism in the workplace, doing so will cover this subject. It’s not a disadvantage to have an individual with much more experience than the position requires. Since having many applicants is an advantage in today’s employment market, tell your managers to keep the candidates flowing. Regardless of the candidate’s technological capabilities, ensure that training is included in the onboarding process. Constant coaching and employees being able to review their previous learning is beneficial.
2. Keep an eye out for social cues in the workplace.
It’s also critical to look for social signs in the workplace. Although usually done with kindness and humor, those birthday cards that make fun of old age are unhealthy and can indicate age discrimination within the company. Although it seems innocent, these are usually the main culprit in age-discrimination lawsuits.
3. Have meaningful conversations with your employees
It’s crucial to prevent ageism in the workplace by creating a friendly environment where employees can share their concerns and ideas and participate in a meaningful dialogue. Communication is the best method to build trust with your employees, demonstrate commonalities, and break down the generational walls that may have formed unwillingly.
4. Establish mentoring programs
Aside from the plethora of evidence backing up mentorship programmes, such as increased job satisfaction, organizational loyalty, professional growth, and perceived work-related satisfaction, mentorship programmes can effectively address age-related issues. Further, the expertise and information that senior workers contribute to a business are priceless. Others can only obtain that info if older employees are willing to share their experiences with other co-workers.
Another way to connect these age groups is through reverse mentoring. Reverse mentoring is when a younger employee assists their mentor to get familiar with less known technology, programmes, and social media platforms. It helps both parties bridge the knowledge gap, increases their chances of having a compassionate perspective about the company’s future, and minimizes involuntary bias.
There are all kinds of workplace stereotypes that should be considered ageism. People need to pay more attention to these random acts. A birthday card that is supposed to be funny, for example, or a stupid joke about someone’s age.
As harmless as it sounds, these are toxic to all ages. Age-related marks could cause older adults to feel depressed or anxious. And they could cause anxiety about ageing for younger people.
However, the most severe case of work-related ageism I’ve seen is assuming people can’t handle their job because they’re older. I remember years ago, I was grocery shopping with my grandkid. He’s the sweetest kid, but he said something that got me thinking that day.
There were three cashiers at that supermarket; one of them was 50 something; he looked at that man and said, “Grandpa, let’s get to the other line; this man would crawl all day.” That was hard for me to hear, as I faced some difficulties at work back then.
So to answer your question, I’d say we should be more careful with our language and attitude. Communication is a crucial factor; if possible, talk about age discrimination you or your coworkers face with other employees. If that doesn’t work, you can speak to your HR.
It’s wise not to draw attention to your age but do not stand for ageist behaviours; you probably have a code of conduct in your workplace, so contact HR in such situations. Make sure to never directly answer illegal questions.
Engage in the world, stay active, mentally and physically, focus on your experience and stay technically proficient. Focus on what you can do and what companies can use that skill.
Be as independent as you possibly can and surround yourself with active and understanding people. If you make yourself and your knowledge both up-to-date and valuable, you can combat age discrimination.
Ageism is all around us, even at the workplace where we’re supposed to feel safest. Standing and taking action against ageism is a citizen’s duty. Therefore it’s more than appreciated if we try to fight ageism in our workspace by having better communications and keeping up our morale and positivity through thick and thin.
Better communications with our coworkers and colleagues will significantly improve our confidence and give them a more precise idea and image of who we are and what we’re professionally and socially capable of bringing to our workspace.
Having better communications with more and more people means the ultimate advantage for us, especially when the social virus of “ageism” strikes and wants to take a bash on our mental health.
If someone delivers something even remotely related to ageism, be vocal about it and talk with your trusted colleagues. By doing this, you’ll make sure that you’ll be providing yourself with support systems like “a safe place to calm you and help you work through your feelings after being on the receiving end of ageism” and “a group of understanding people who’ll stand with you against the topic at hand.”