Ageism in recruiting: How to avoid age discrimination?


Ageism in recruiting: How to avoid age discrimination?

February 15 / 2023

Time is undoubtedly the greatest enemy of human beings. One day we are young workers starting their working lives and in just a breath we have crossed off the sixth decade on the calendar. 

Accepting the inevitable shows common sense. The problem arises when the worker suffers age discrimination from their work environment. This is called ageism.

58% of workers over the age of 50 claim to have suffered some type of age discrimination. And of this group, 95% say it is a fairly common situation at work.

However, contrary to what one might think, this type of discrimination is not only suffered by older workers. Young professionals may also experience exclusion in certain cases because they have not reached the appropriate age. We will discuss this in the final part of the article.

Work-related ageism and ways of dealing with it

This term was born in the 1960s when gerontologist Robert Butler used it to refer to age-related prejudices and clichés that generate inequality in various social spheres. 

Specifically, work-related ageism indicates the discrimination suffered by professionals over 55 years of age simply for having reached this stage of their lives. 

The 2008 crisis and the more recent one, generated by the pandemic, caused many middle-aged workers to lose their jobs and then find it very difficult or impossible to re-enter the labor market.

In Spain, nearly 30% of the total number of unemployed people belong to the senior professional group. Undoubtedly a real problem in which age discrimination plays a prominent role.

Common prejudices of ageism

  • Older workers are considered less flexible to change.
  • Linked to this point, they resist or are considered less able to assimilate new methods and knowledge.
  • They receive a higher salary than younger professionals in the company. 
  • Digital divide. This fact is quite refutable, since during the pandemic, many seniors worked from home, adapting perfectly to the technology. The vast majority say they would have no problem continuing to telework.

Incidentally, the Law on Penalties and Infringements in the Social Order considers age discrimination to be a very serious infringement. 

How do we fight it?

  • Focus on the workers’ capabilities, regardless of their age

What is important is the professional’s aptitude and attitude in the performance of their work. The years are reflected in the body, but also in the accumulated experience. Discriminating against or dismissing workers over 55 can generate a loss of talent in the company that is difficult to replace. 

The key is to focus on the individual. Analyze their capabilities regardless of their age. This will benefit both parties. The company by maintaining its productivity and the worker by feeling valued for the work they perform. 

  • Strengthen intergenerational relationships

Promoting joint activities between professionals of different ages favors mutual enrichment by discovering different points of view on different issues. Everybody can learn from each other. The experience of age, the new ideas and drive of the younger ones …

  • Promote continuous development 

Encourage continuous training among workers throughout their working lives. Age can never be an obstacle for those who need to acquire new knowledge.

  • Redistribution of tasks and rotation

The redistribution of tasks gives rise to a change in the work routine. By doing so, the employee interacts with colleagues other than the usual ones and improves his motivation by taking on new roles.

On the other hand, when the age of a professional prevents them from making certain physical efforts, rotation is an effective solution so that person can continue working in the company.

This work of relocating and training senior talent is undoubtedly very beneficial to the company. It avoids doing without the experience, skills and commitment demonstrated for so long.

Reverse ageism

We are facing a case of ageism in reverse.  Reverse Ageism is the name given by some media to the assumption of older workers of the inexperience and irresponsibility of younger professionals.

Derogatory comments, fewer opportunities for professional development or the perception of incompetence due to being young is another common type of age discrimination.

This fact generates a decrease in the satisfaction of the work to be carried out. This is the first symptom of a more than likely abandonment of the company in the short to medium term. 

To combat the loss of young talent, companies must provide these workers with specific training to deal with these situations. It is also very effective to create events involving young and older professionals, as exposure helps to break down stereotypes.

At Cloudworks we are against any type of personal and work-related discrimination. In the case of ageism, both in the case of professionals who are too young and lack the necessary experience and the older professionals unable of updating and maintaining the same quality in their work as in the past.In our various locations in Madrid and Barcelona, young and senior professionals coexist in an ideal environment for companies and freelancers. Spaces free of prejudice or discrimination that adapt to all types of events and synergies. See them for yourself!

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