Colin’s Corner

Ageism in The Workplace: Over 50’s Excluded from Workforce

By Colin Toll

Ageism in the Workplace Affects Us All

Although ageism in the workplace is often not talked about, it affects many older adults in the job market. The negative impacts of ageism affect us all.

Ageism, or age discrimination, is prejudice based on someone’s age. Ageism in the workplace can come in many different forms.

For example, someone might experience age discrimination when an employer refuses to hire them because of their age. Or an older employee might be fired or treated differently than their co-workers because of their age.

Ageism in the workplace has a serious impact on the working environments of businesses large and small. Here are just a few ways discrimination against older workers affect businesses and individuals.

Businesses miss out on experience

It’s no secret – with age comes experience. A younger worker lacks the extensive background of first-hand knowledge that an older worker has gained over time. Employers who do not provide opportunities for older workers lose valuable experience.

Older workers tend to be more mature and confident in their abilities than their younger counterparts. This mindset is crucial for getting things done correctly and efficiently. It also helps a business maintain a reputation of integrity and industry expertise.

Ageism in the workplace increases the challenges for a business that is trying to grow. Older workers often act as mentors for younger employees, teaching them the ins and outs of the position. When this occurs, employers can spend less time micromanaging their team and more time on tasks that grow a business. At the same time, younger employees gain the skills they need to succeed and advance within a company.

Communities are not prepared for future needs

Across the country, our aging populations are rapidly growing.  We need to be ready for an increased aging population. This includes shifting the way we look at aging. If we continue to look at age as a negative quality, our workforce will face some major issues in the future.

Aging can be an empowering and positive experience that benefits all members of our communities. By eliminating age as a determinate of ability and success, we open the door to new opportunities for our workforce now and in the future.

In Closing

A final word or two from Roslyn Ross who wrote the following in the Spectator on 17 July 2022:

“I find it ironic that everyone wants to live a long life, but nobody wants to get old. Even fewer value old age as a testament to experience.

We value experience when we employ someone to do a job, but we do not value experience in being alive, in the human condition, or decades of experience in living. Why is that? Despite the old maxim, age does not necessarily bring wisdom, but it does bring experience, perspective, and context to many people. All of that is important.

It is not possible to live a long life without growing older. The years have their own rules, and nothing can be done to avoid them beyond a bit of tweaking here and there.

When young women bemoan what they believe is the beginning of a wrinkle, my advice to them is that there is only one way to avoid wrinkles and that is to die.

If we are to live a long life, as society believes is a plus, then acceptance of ageing is necessary – as is coming to understand that the important thing is not the number of years one has lived, but the quality of life along the way.

Old age does not have to mean one is decrepit and decaying. Plenty of people are decrepit and decaying at younger ages. Some live very long lives without such physical or mental decay. Nothing is absolute in life beyond the simple reality that there are fewer years ahead and many more behind.”