Ageism at work is a very real issue that can have serious implications for any company culture. While it isn’t often discussed, age discrimination in the workplace is more common than you may think. Around 65% of workers say they have faced ageism in a work environment.
The World Health Organization defines ageism as “the stereotypes (how we think), prejudice (how we feel) and discrimination (how we act) towards others or oneself based on age.”
Even after a relative return to “normalcy” after the pandemic, workers over the age of 55 are having difficulty finding employment in a job market where many roles are built for Gen Z and millennial populations. An estimated quarter of today’s workforce is older than 55, and many jobseekers who fall in this age range face longer periods of unemployment when seeking work.
Working to combat age discrimination is important for companies looking to create equitable, inclusive, humanistic spaces.
Are you looking for ways to ensure that your team members are treated fairly, regardless of age? Here are 10 ways to create a workplace where your multigenerational workforce feels supported, valued, and included.
1. Stay up-to-date on anti-age discrimination policies
Company leadership should take time to get educated about policies that exist at both the state and federal levels– these will serve as important frameworks for building your own plan and keeping your plan up to date.
2. Incentivize mixed-age mentorship
Age is an incredible advantage; knowledge and experience are key to being an effective leader and employee. Create ways for your team members to learn from one another by giving employees the opportunity to opt into a mentorship program.
Mixed-age mentorship is an excellent way for employees to share new skills and create a safe space for shared learning while fighting age bias
3. Include age-based discrimination in your DEI strategy
An effective DEI strategy is all-encompassing. This means taking all forms of discrimination, including ageism, into account when planning out your equity roadmap and inclusion initiatives.
4. Mental health and wellness check-ins with your team
Ageism has lingering effects on individuals’ health and well-being. Prioritize wellness check-ins with individuals on your team. Opening a dialogue specific to employee well-being is a great way to get a pulse for how they may be feeling.
Create questions for your check-in; ask where people feel excluded or where they have suggestions for improving culture to make it more inclusive.
Talking directly to your team is a great retention strategy that also opens space to uncover unconscious bias. Check-in with everyone and be clear that openness is encouraged.
5. Create a culture of learning
Similar to mentoring, foster a culture based around team members learning from one another. Find different ways to spotlight people from different age groups! Offering a platform to the unique individuals who make up the fabric of your organization is a small investment in your people with an incredible return.
A culture of education helps foster empathy and fight against prejudice by dispelling misconceptions and addressing real stereotypes.
6. Look for universal ways to bring your team together
Considering who the structure of your work environment takes into account is extremely important for ensuring that no age group feels excluded from company culture.
Plan events and activities around topics that everyone can relate to. Bringing team members together around pets, favorite foods, favorite holidays, etc are great ways to facilitate team bonding for everyone.
7. Adopt a culture of regular employee appreciation
Showing your team members that you care about them as individuals is an excellent way to make sure every age group feels like a valued part of your culture. Set up regular team bonding exercises through an employee engagement platform like Cooleaf.
8. Provide opportunities for growth regardless of age
Numerous growth opportunities should be baked into any healthy company culture. Ensuring team members have multiple pathways to upward success, regardless of age or company status, is an essential part of retaining talented employees and promoting creativity.
When considering areas that allow employees to scale their roles, be careful to make sure that opportunities are diverse and abundant; you want your employees to know that growth is possible at every level.
When identifying growth opportunities within your organization, take the following strategies into consideration:
- Career mobility
- Equal access to high-quality technology
- Training and mentorship opportunities
- Continued learning and training opportunities
- Foundational culture of employee recognition and consistent encouragement
9. Put together an accurate picture of your workplace demographics
As with any effective strategy, taking stock of where you stand before putting a plan in place is a necessary first step. Align with your human resources team to assess your organization’s ageism health ranking.
Talk with hiring managers about their process and look over job descriptions for any areas in your hiring process where there may be age-specific or exclusionary language or actions.
10. Commit to your initiatives
Making sure that your organization supports team members of all ages is critical to creating a culture of success. While you may be starting from scratch, you have nothing to fear!
The key to creating a great plan is to be transparent about why inclusion for all ages is important to you.
Let your people know that you want to uphold all the values of a DEI-centered work environment and that ultimately, you want everyone in your organization to love and be proud of where they work.
Are you ready to create a culture of employee appreciation? Talk to our engagement experts!