The Signs of Ageism & How to Handle It

May 16, 20192:33 pm
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Ageism is a tendency to negatively stereotype older adults or to display prejudice against elderly. It can take on many forms and practices, such as discrimination against people simply because they are older. Several studies indicated that ageism is a widespread and cross-culture social problem. Not only occurs in the workplace settings, ageism can be found in our daily life such as at the store, market, street, hospital, or even at home.

For example, 60 years old Bob, talented and experienced, doesn’t get that job promotion just because of his age. Or 62 years Ann, active and handy, wants to try a new hobby in gymnastic but is prohibited and being told that she is too old for that. So, what are these elderly supposed to do?

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While old people are prohibited to do certain things for seemingly good reasons, some are actually not so fine. Discrimination practices towards the elderly could injure and decrease their wellbeing instead. Health Concepts cited that there are five reasons why age-related stereotypes are harmful: it harms overall health of older adults, it raises the risk of dementia, it leads to a cycle of decline, it harms the future health of people who are young today, and it is an expensive financial cost.

So, what should we do?

According to the Age Discrimination Employment Act (ADEA), this stereotype should no longer exist. Employers cannot discriminate against employees based on their age, including for promotion, hiring, firing, and work assignment.

The elderly are supposed to be as alive as young generation. They need assistance, not being told “no”.

Likewise, one should stop if witness such discriminatory practices. Employees should also be acknowledged of the importance of age diversity in the workplace. The rest responsibility lies in manager and employer. Olivia Ho at Straits Times wrote that employer has an important role regarding this issue. Employers should restructure jobs and overhaul workplace culture in order to accommodate mature employees from a rapid changing workplace. In addition, employers should also be aware of signs of age discrimination such as leaving the old behind, giving opportunities to the younger only, or speaking badly about ageism in front of older people.

After knowing and preventing the signs from happening, employers can create better workplace culture that embrace differences in the workforce. You can adapt these tips in order to create better culture and to fight ageism in workplace.

  1.  You should not only invest in the younger employees. This can include educational coursework, access to reimbursement, professional training, or work conference.
  2.  You should not overlook employees for challenging assignments. For example, the assigned tasks need to use newest technology like AI or AR. Yet, you only assigned it to younger staff as they are the technology savvy generation. You should not do so as this is unfair and unpleasant to the older employees. There are many older employees who are updated with technology nowadays.
  3. You should include everyone in the discussion, a meeting, or other company activities. Oftentimes, older employees can offer broader view about life and work experience.
  4.  You should eliminate joking about age as you never know what words can do to people. Therefore, it is better to not joke about age or talk about retirement plans unless needed.
  5.  You should consider everyone, including older employees, for pay raise and promotion. To create the best culture, remember that everyone has their own expertise and skill. All, including older staffs age 50, can be as smart and talented as those aged 35. So, it is better to pay attention to this concept rather than judging individuals based on their age.
  6.  The best move is by identifying the sign of ageism discrimination. Note and document any acts of discrimination, then report it to the manager or higher supervisor in the workplace

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