One very important issue that we have realised is ageism, which involves discriminating against seniors, especially in the workplace, solely based on their age.
Ageism in the workplace refers to the discrimination, prejudice, or bias experienced by older employees based on their age.
It manifests in various ways, such as exclusion from opportunities, unfair treatment, and negative stereotypes. This form of discrimination can have significant effects on seniors’ well-being, job satisfaction, and career advancement.
Hiring and Promotion: Older workers may face challenges in securing new job opportunities or promotions due to age-related bias. Employers may favour younger candidates, assuming they are more tech-savvy or adaptable, overlooking the valuable skills and experience that seniors bring to the table.
Reduced Opportunities: Ageism can lead to a reduction in training and development opportunities for older employees. They might be excluded from workshops, conferences, or skill-building programs, hindering their professional growth and limiting their potential contributions.
Unequal Treatment: Older workers may experience differential treatment in the workplace, such as being assigned less challenging tasks or receiving fewer responsibilities compared to their younger counterparts.
Retrenchment and Early Retirement: Some companies may implement age-based layoffs or offer early retirement packages to older employees, perpetuating ageism and contributing to financial insecurity for seniors.
Lack of Inclusivity: A work environment that lacks inclusivity may lead to social isolation for older workers. They might feel excluded from social gatherings, networking events, or informal interactions, impacting their sense of belonging and overall job satisfaction.
Stereotyping: Ageist stereotypes can contribute to biassed perceptions about older workers’ abilities, assuming they are less adaptable, less competent with technology, or less receptive to change.
Age-Related Jokes and Comments: Age-related humour or comments in the workplace, even if intended as light-hearted, can perpetuate ageism and create a hostile work environment for seniors.
Impact on Mental Health: Experiencing age discrimination at work can have detrimental effects on the mental health of older employees, leading to feelings of inadequacy, depression, and anxiety.
Tips to Address Ageism in the Workplace:
Implement Age-Inclusive Policies: Develop policies that promote age diversity and inclusivity in the workplace, ensuring equal opportunities for employees of all ages.
Training and Sensitization: Provide training to employees and management to raise awareness about ageism and its impact. Encourage sensitivity towards age-related issues and foster an inclusive work culture.
Mentorship and Reverse Mentoring: Encourage cross-generational mentorship programs where older employees can share their knowledge and experience with younger colleagues, while also learning from them.
Recognize and Celebrate Experience: Acknowledge and value the contributions of older employees, highlighting their expertise and experience in the organisation.
Age-Blind Recruitment: Remove age-related information from job applications and focus on skills and qualifications to ensure a fair selection process.
Review HR Practices: Regularly review HR practices to identify and address any age-related bias or discrimination in hiring, promotions, and training opportunities.
Encourage Flexibility: Provide flexible work options, such as part-time or remote work, to accommodate the needs and preferences of older employees.
Foster an Inclusive Culture: Foster an environment where all employees are respected and valued, regardless of their age, and where ageist comments or behaviours are not tolerated.
Dr Zubair Saleem is a Senior Geriatric Consultant and a Gerontologist and Dr Showkat Rashid Wani is a Senior Coordinator, Directorate of Distance Education, University of Kashmir