Ageism in the workplace is becoming much more common in the workplace today. Although, there are many reported cases of discrimination of ageism in the workplace; “it usually goes underreported because it is difficult to provide evidence for age discrimination in the hiring process or even workplace” (Anti-Ageism Taskforce, 2006). There are different forms of workplace ageism that take place. Perhaps if employees become aware of it they can be trained or the elders at work would be able to have the courage to report any inappropriate behavior or discrimination against them. The main focus is being able to recognize when discrimination is taking place and then what can be done to stop it. Workplace ageism can happen in different forms; a personal level, institutional, intentional or unintentional (Anti-Ageism Taskforce, 2006). This indicates that age discrimination can be based on a personal belief of an older person, retirement policies, deliberately being biased against older people or not recognizing that one is being biased.
However, the effect of these discriminations that the elderly face because of it is much greater. This causes older workers to experience “derogatory comments, negative comments of their work performance, not taken serious by their supervisors or seeing other coworkers get promoted with having less qualifications or experience than them” (Chou & Choi, 2011). Imagine going to work and deal with this day in and day out? This can cause anyone to become frustrated, angry and sick. The stress level that the older adults at work experience can cause serious health issues. Who would want to work like this? In circumstances as such it would be difficult to be able to work bring their work performance down resulting in poor work ethics. When in reality it is all due to their effects on how they are being discriminated. Why must they deal with this when all that is asked on their behalf is just some respect, so they can be able to perform their job. In fact, research has shown that negative stereotyping a certain group can in fact harm their performance and health. Although the research is limited; “there is substantial evidence that age discrimination does in fact have adverse effects on employment outcomes in hiring, retention, termination, and promotion as well as on workers’ performance, health, and well-being” (Anti-Ageism Taskforce, 2006; Chou, 2012).
These stereotypes of older workers not having as much energy, productivity or tech savvy enough as a younger employee come from employers believing that this is true. “Despite substantial evidence to the contrary, negative stereotypes about older workers persist and continue to influence employers in their mistreatment of older workers” (Chou, 2012). This can affect the way the older worker performs causing the employee to believe that his belief was in fact true; when in fact it is not. This is just a reaction to how poorly and unfair the older workers are being treated. In fact, there is a lot we can learn from older workers. They come from an era of knowing how to communicate and handle different situations in person. Whereas the younger workers are in an era where all communication is electronic or social media. There is a major gap between both; however, if both can learn from one another it would be beneficial for both sides. In other words, the older adults can learn how to navigate a different path of communication such as social media and the younger adults can learn in person communication skills. In result, this would be able to help the company at large benefiting both sides.
Employers should be strict on all employees about maintain a level of respect for one another. How can an employer except his employees to respect one another if they themselves are discriminating? “Employers and managers should constructively address workplace ageism so that the benefits to society are not lost from the contributions of an entire segment of healthy functioning older adult workers” (Macik-Frey, 2013). Employees young or old take note of everything that goes on in the workplace. They look at their supervisors as their leaders. Therefore, HR should hold supervisors responsible on completing a mandated training on workplace discrimination; to include ageism. Also, employers should enforce a zero tolerance for any discrimination to sure that no animosity would arise in their workplace. This can happen with employers educating and training themselves as well as supervisors. This will ensure that all supervisors act accordingly and educate their employees on the trainings they have attended. “The right to work is a fundamental human right, and older adults deserve freedom from workplace ageism” (Caldera, 2013). No one should go to work to experience anything other than mutual or professional respect. A Girl Scouts poem says it best: “Make new friends, but keep the old/One is silver, the other is gold. We need the new and shiny to keep life interesting, but we also need some sage wisdom to make sense of it all” (Gallucci, 2014).