Ageism, also known as age discrimination is a reality in today’s world and has become a thorn in the flesh of the society. It refers to the attitudes, norms and beliefs towards groups of people because of their age based on prejudice and subordination. The different groups of people on whom the practice is practiced range from children, teenagers, middle-aged adults, and the old members of the society. The glorification of adults, neglecting younger people is called adultism while the favour of younger people at the expense of the older people is called jeunism. Ageism develops the notion that a particular group of people is less productive due to alleged deficiency in intelligence and physical capabilities.
In employment, ageism affects both younger and older workers. Initially there was less ageism at work place unlit generation Y came into scene bringing in completion against the earlier generation X. In employment, age discrimination refers to a situation where the employer in taking recruitment, promotion, and retirement or retention decisions in the work place uses the age of a person. It affects all the employees regardless their age and it limits opportunities to people ending up dealing employees a hefty blow despite their potential at work. This has seen unequal remuneration of workers where younger people are allocated the minimum wages in some countries like United States of America and The United Kingdom. In some firms the younger workers are allocated the tasks that require less mental efforts and instead are allocated the physically engaging tasks which are not very well paying until some age when the older worker begin to retire or promotions start to be offered discriminating the older ones.
Studies have shown that when older and younger people hear these stereotypes and beliefs about their supposed incompetence and uselessness at workplace, they perform worse on measures of competence and memory due to lack of motivation. Labour regulations are also found to fix limits of working ages, sidelining some groups of people. In some firms, they sideline the younger people while in other firms the older are sidelined. The law, for example, requires that all young person’s must be at least be of some age years old in order to employed or even obtain a driver’s license in some nations. Technology is also seen to be reinforcing ageism where older people are literally unable to catch up with modern and fast-changing technology since their education was conducted when the world had not gotten digital. Ageing also brings about deterioration of a person’s health which has negative impacts at workplace. It leads to increased health care cost of workers as well as sick off leaves.
Groups have now emerged to combat the adverse effects of ageism through funding, training and federal policies protecting the vulnerable groups. Also increasing the number of doctoral level scholars, researcher and passing the knowledge to the younger students so as to bridge the gap in all levels of learning. Psychologists are needed to react to age discrimination the same way they do to discrimination against race or disability. Laws such as The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 have also been put in place to help combat age discrimination especially for the older people.
A good way of now overcoming this challenge is to get familiarized with the laws and educate the others who are no informed although is difficult to prove it. One of the tools an employee can use to prove age discrimination is comments made at the workplace. These comments can come from the employee’s supervising personnel, colleagues, or even the company’s management team member.
Ageism is perpetuated in all ways in some societies such as the colloquial phrases in our everyday conversations such as “old geezer” or “dirty old man” which create a negative image of the aged. Another misconception about older people is that they are in a state of mental, physical, and sexual decline. This is not true, as the majority of older people are happy, healthy, and interested in continuing to engage in sexual activity. In other societies, age is often associated with a decline in beauty as well. Three factors believed to contribute to the development of age discrimination in a society are the place of death as a natural part of life, the valuation of youth, and the view of productivity of the elder members of society as diminishing. In some societies like Asia, where death is considered a natural part of the life, older people are respected and at workplace, they are believed to be very knowledgeable.
Whether you’re an employee or a manager, ageism is a problem you are very likely to encounter, either directly or indirectly. Age discrimination can be intentional or unintentional, but there are no excuses for it in the workplace Age discrimination is illegal all over the world.
The truth of the matter is that age does affect a person’s productivity. Younger people at work may lack the necessary experience but have the relevant knowledge while on the other hand older people may have a lot of experience but lack the relevant and modern knowledge and the older workers have been hit particularly hard in their attempts to rebound from the recession. There has been poor or no communication between the different generations so as to eliminate age discrimination. Another successful way finding employment and overcoming age discrimination is to turn the negatives of the group affected into positives.
The human resource management should closely monitor the ageing labour force whether young or old and uphold the values of the firms work policy. The management should also include rules that favour the most vulnerable groups. This will help to curb age discrimination that has led to disunity at work places.