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Age-based assumptions are leading employers astray

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Age is always a humorous topic in the HR magazine office. It’s a key signifier of what TV shows we were brought up on or which Glastonbury festival we remember with fond, if hazy, memories.

But it can also serve as a great divider in the workforce, leading managers to make quick-fire assumptions over the abilities of an employee based solely on the year they were born. These assumptions follow you everywhere.

As a not-quite 30-year-old editor, I’m often met with surprised reactions from people within the HR sector when I first meet them.

Inevitably, their expectations of what an editor looks like were different what from this editor looks like, mainly based on my age. A nice problem to have in a society obsessed with ageing, but extremely patronising for me. 

The problem becomes even more severe when dealing with older workers, who have left the workforce in droves since the start of the pandemic. Often these workers are left by managers to go dusty on the ready-for-retirement shelf, rather than properly utilised for their decades of experience and knowledge.

Our cover story explores how ageism is often the missing part of diversity and inclusion discussions.

It looks at how HR can better retain older workers in the face of a continuously challenging job market, how ageism manifests in the workplace and resolving potential intergenerational conflict.

Read it for yourselves, but the conclusion is glaringly obvious. We all fundamentally want the same things: a decent salary, good benefits and flexibility.

 

Jo Gallacher is editor of HR magazine

 

This article was first published in the March/April 2022 issue of HR magazine. Subscribe today to have all our latest articles delivered right to your desk.