The surprising age workers start to experience ageism

Before the COVID-19 pandemic devastated the job market, ageism was a favored topic among industry insiders.

Over the last five years or so, sources began tracking increasing reports of Americans continuing to work into their late sixties.

The reasons were much more varied than the trend’s perception in the company of younger workers.

Researchers fear that employers and staff too often discriminate against older candidates with misconceptions that have since been debunked.

The Yale School of Public Health recently identified ageism as a global phenomenon–one that is taking a dramatic toll on the mental and physical health of its victims.

The 2019 Ageism in the Workplace Study, published by Hiscox, determined that one in five participants surveyed anticipated experiencing ageism around the age of 40. Where they right?If a new study conducted by the Ageing Workforce Ready project is any indication, 45 is closer to the mark.

To Rachael Palmer, who led the research, falsehoods surrounding older members of the workforce are keeping companies from employing genuine talent.

Ten percent of employers reject candidates over the age of 50, and more than 30% of 45-year-old workers involved in a recent Centre of Workplace Excellence analysis, experienced some form of ageism while employed or looking for work in the last 12 months.

“People over 45 years are significant consumers in our economy, yet often companies are marketing to a younger generation,” Palmer told Dynamic Business. “An age-inclusive environment that recognizes the unique contribution of individuals, life-stages, and experiences is one in which everyone can flourish.”

The folks over at Freshbooks seem to second this appreciation.

In their recent report detailing the ways in which older workers defy conventional expectations, the researchers revealed that more than half of the self-employed workers aged 65 and older were fully capable of maintaining the size of their workforce at their firms and the revenue stream produced by it.

In the same report, 31% of sexagenarians said they intend to keep their workforce the same while increasing their revenues stream well into their 70’s and 80’s and the remaining 13% are determined to increase both as opposed to retiring.

In contrast with these finds of figures, Palmer identified five myths that frequently keep older workers out of the labor market:

  1. They have lower productivity and performance
  2. They cost the business more because of their experiences
  3. They are prone to health problems
  4. They don’t understand the technology
  5. They are just counting days until they retire

“Myths that reinforce competition between age-groups are unhelpful and untrue. An aging workforce is a future; companies that don’t adapt will be left behind.” A 70-year-old has lived through historical events, life experiences, and a cultural context which shapes them differently to those experienced by a 50-year-old,” Palmer continued.

To be clear, because ageism is such a subtle concept older members are more often than not aware of their limitations.

This means age-based discrimination is less about dismissing the ways that make younger candidates stronger than older ones, and more about being mindful of the many things older candidates can bring to the table.

This simple adjustment during the hiring process can go a long way in maximizing output and reducing mental and physical decline associated with ageism.

“People who are in stressful jobs, discriminated against at work, and experiencing low job satisfaction are more likely to suffer from depression,” Palmer concluded. “It includes giving older employees a choice to work part-time, take longer blocks of annual leave or control their start and finish times.”