Is ageism alive and kicking?
Research from the Department for Work and Pensions has shown that age discrimination is still a problem in Britain today.
The Attitude to Age report showed that one third of those asked said that they had experienced ageism at least once in the last year.
I have actually experienced this recently, when helping an employee of a charity.
Her organisation are restructuring, so an opportunity has opened up for a position that she’s interested in.
She spoke to the Finance Director about it, who was initially encouraging, before saying, “But wouldn’t it be better to give this to one of your younger colleagues?”
Stories like this – and numerous others – prove to us that ageism is alive and kicking, and all this in a charity that prides itself on helping more mature people!
The DWP survey showed that people in their 20s and 70s had experienced the most negative attitudes to their age (the employee I was helping was in her 50s).
Those in their 70s actually experienced more positive attitudes than those in their 20s, and were seen as “friendlier, having higher moral standards and as being more competent” than young people.
Employees in their 40s and 50s were seen in the most positive light.
With skilled staff in short supply, it really doesn’t make sense for employers to limit their choice even more.
Why allow ageism to play a part in your hiring process?
All employees, whatever their age, bring uniquely different skills and strengths.
And when you get the right blend of these skills and strengths in your team, it’ll lead to a balanced, adaptable and effective team. You can’t make assumptions either – young people aren’t automatically fresher in their thinking, nor are all old people afraid of technology.
Some of the benefits that older workers can bring to your company:
- Can mentor less experienced staff
- Tend to be more reliable
- Considered to have a stronger work ethic
- More willing to work flexibly according to business needs
- Bring a diversity of thought/approach to team projects
Younger workers also have unique skills, which they can bring in to your business to help you meet your goals. Take the findings of a survey by Pew Social Trends on millennial employees (18 to 29 years old):
- Stronger grasp of technology than older people
- More able to use social media
- More racially tolerant
It is important to be clear that these are just trends: not all older and young people will have these traits.
When you allow these skills to be brought together in your firm, your business will be more diverse, adaptable and innovative.
And businesses today need to have every advantage they can in the current business environment!
If you know of a business that could do with our help, please let us know – we always reward referrals with chocolate!