It’s no secret some companies have a tendency to discriminate when it comes to the hiring and even the promotion process. When this prejudice is centered around how old a worker is, it is commonly known as ageism.
When companies act in this discriminatory way, they are often hurting the company rather than helping it. Older workers are just as valuable to a company as the younger working demographic, and in some cases more so.
Experienced, skilled, and versatile, senior workers bring a unique voice to the company. Though different, it is a voice of equal value to that of a young adult. The two combined make for a well-rounded and more innovative business.
There has long been a trend in the workforce to push older people aside in order to make room for the young and their seemingly fresh ideas. This not only affects a senior’s current employment but it may also affect future employment.
While ageism might seem like a vague concept, it is an issue rampant throughout the workforce. Studies have been commissioned in order to understand the true extent of this form of discrimination.
One such study found close to half of the baby boomer respondents claimed they had been turned down for a job since they turned 40. While three in five people over 50 said they had faced substantial obstacles in attempts to find a job.
In fact, the obstacles toward employment are so substantial many baby boomers reported it took longer than six months to find a new job when making a career move. Even more daunting, one in six people surveyed indicated it took them five or more years to find a job.
Ageism isn’t just affecting the ability to find a job either. This prejudice also negatively impacts an older person’s feelings about their current job. This is because many respondents reported they felt stuck in their current job as opportunities for promotion were limited.
While baby boomers often feel like the losers when it comes to age-based discrimination, this isn’t quite true. Rather, the business disregarding the experience and skills of an older population bracket is the real loser.
One study of businesses found the most innovative companies are indeed the ones where the age of the employees simply did not matter. The research also indicates a growing appreciation for valuable expertise people can offer at all stages of their life and career.
Instead of age being the determining factor, these innovative companies are taking the best people for the job, whether they are 20, 40, or 60 years of age. Companies thrive when they are filled with people working with a good attitude in order to achieve a common goal. A positive nature and zest for working in a job one enjoys is not limited to the young.
When companies operate with an ethos that dictates older people are less valuable, creativity and the exchange of ideas have less depth and breadth. The ideas are not represented or formed by as broad a spectrum of people. This results in a business that suffers in its library of collective knowledge and one less capable of developing comprehensively innovative ideas with ageless appeal.
Some criticize the older generation because they are perceived to struggle to grasp technological advancements, software, and devices any one business may use. However, this is another misconception. In reality, more than three-quarters of baby boomers adapt well to technological innovations. Studies show this is a generation of well-rounded and competent workers.
With more workplaces realizing the worth of those over 50 to their company, the business world may finally be approaching the point where discrimination based on age is a thing of the past. As studies underscore the adaptability and ingenuity of this segment of the population and its value to the workforce, future bosses will avoid such mistakes.
We will see the workplace become more diverse. People of all demographics, age, and gender will have a seat at the table, and businesses will benefit. When a company is made up of experienced workers with unique voices—regardless of age—the possibilities are endless.
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