“I asked a 52 year old employee why he dyed his hair; he said he needs to look younger to create a better impression. His work environment is increasingly getting young and the only way for him to blend in is to be innovative about his appearance.“
According to AARP, 64% employees have witnessed or experienced age discrimination.
Why does this happen? (The reasons I’ve noticed around me, over a decade of work.)
- Profit making companies will always have money as their topmost priority. Hiring younger workers are cheaper. It is obviously easier to provide a hike on a lower salary to create a culture of reward and recognition.
- Younger workers cannot question what they can’t predict. Experienced employees on the other hand ask a lot of questions that can seem a hindrance for leaders or managers.
- Tier 1 cities, every year, see a growth in young migrant workers who want to make more money than what’s offered in tier 2 or tier 3 cities. These youngsters end up spending a lot of time at work and begin to seem more committed than those who have family and other responsibilities as locals. This creates a need to promote “self-less” youngsters who are giving their all for the company. Old employees often take a hit when they have younger employees who end up doing a lot more in a shorter period of time. It makes business sense to eliminate those who are
- Cultural conditioning often trigger biases which exclude older men; young employees often are careful around senior colleagues, limiting freedom of expression.
Even many popular companies known for their culture, compromise, irrespective of how good the older employee is. The best workplaces spend time and effort to find a solution for older employees if they don’t seem a fit for a specific role. Youth is after all a state of mind!
Technological progress today is driving everyone to stay active and alert; being older will no more mean slower or unfit, there is no option but to keep with the pace.
Bottomline, it takes mature organisations to be human. If you are facing ageism at your workplace, your wisdom is irreplaceable. Experience matters; most importantly God honours the old.