In a world captivated by youth societies, ageism still lives and thrives. Rising concerns about how views of age and aging affecting the workplace are occurring on an everyday basis. Ageism is defined as the discriminations and stereotypes that are applied to older people. It is a way of categorizing people and not acknowledging them to be individuals with unique ways of living their lives based on their age (Miller, 2019). One of the most common issues facing older Americans today is workplace ageism. Workplace ageism involves treating an applicant or employee “less kindly” because of their age (“Age Discrimination,” n.d.).
With a global elderly population increasing and a progressively youth-centered culture across the world there are increasing apprehensions about how perceptions of age and aging may impact the work environment involving job satisfaction, commitment, and engagement (Macdonald & Levy, 2016). Many older adults devote a significant amount of their time working and often face problems in employment. Employers often have negative feelings regarding older employees. Age discrimination continues even though older employees are not essentially less healthy, less knowledgeable, less competent or productive than their younger colleagues (“Ageism in the workplace,” 2016). It is unlawful to harass an employee based on their age. All employees are protected from bias at all stages of employment from date of hire through dismissal (“Age discrimination – Workplace,” n.d.). There is a law that forbids age discrimination in the workplace called The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The ADEA prohibits age discrimination against individuals who are 40-years-old and older. The act however does not defend any employees under the age of 40 (“Age Discrimination,” n.d.).
Stereotypes and expectations about young employees and older employees can partake an enormous effect on decisions in the workplace. Age discrimination in many workplaces can involve: not interviewing someone because their age might not “fit in” with other workers, not hiring older adults because it is presumed that they will soon leave the workforce, not offering education opportunities for older adults because it is considered “not worth it,” and pushing someone to retire, because they are “too old” (“Age discrimination – Workplace,” n.d.). According to Macdonald and Levy (2016), there are indications that age discrimination sways employees in various age groups with a negative impression on employment gratification, obligation, and engagement. Ageism has real mental and physical health consequences. In a society full of youth, older adults are perceived as incompetent, unwelcome, and a burden. They are also perceived as inflexible, resilient to change, and uncomfortable with technology.
According to Okechukwu, Souza, Davis, and Castro (2014), workplace ageism or discrimination is enthused by attitudes of inferiority of a “disadvantaged” outgroup compared to a “dominant” group. Occupation progression has shown to be delayed by workplace prejudices leading straight to resigning from the company or organization, especially among socially “disadvantaged” employees, or implicitly through sickness and other health illnesses (Okechukwu, Souza, Davis, & Castro, 2014). According to Swift, Abrams, and Cuthbert (2016), research indicates that older employees are more likely to be victimized when there is a stereotypical difference concerning the employee’s age and profession.
Many employees struggle for success and gratitude in their chosen careers with the hope of advancing in their profession. Workplace ageism occurs on an everyday basis making it harder for older adults to succeed in their profession or even obtain a job. Negative comments and discrimination surrounding older adults and older employees can impair their work performance and influence employer’s hiring decisions. Exclusions from the workforce can upsurge the possibility of despair and psychological health complications for older adults (Swift, Abrams, & Cuthbert, 2016).
All employers should acknowledge the strengths of their employees of all age instead of their stereotypical qualities. Employers should also not assume that one person is better than the other based on their age. Implicit age discrimination could lead many employing companies and organizations to fail to choose the best applicant because of misjudged expectations about the applicant’s age (Swift, Abrams, & Cuthbert, 2016). Perceived discrimination has effects on both the employee and the work environment. Biases against older adults abilities and skills in the workforce may lead to a decrease in opportunities and hardship.
Ageism is a ridiculous perception, and nonetheless it manages to be widespread and a destructive concern in today’s society. Age should not be a barrier to work performances. There is no suggestion showing that older employees are less efficient or enthusiastic than their younger colleagues. Older employees cannot escape stereotypes and discrimination, no matter how biased it may be. It is essential that businesses and organizations should be mindful during interviews that older employees would be seen as unaccustomed with modern technology and change. Employers must be attentive of these perceptions and try to avoid doing things that emphasize age discrimination. A suggested approach an employer can do to prevent age discrimination upon their company or organization is to have a multigenerational workplace. Every employer nationwide should acknowledge that all their employees could provide success to their organization or company based on their knowledge, determination, and proficiency, not their age.