Avoiding Age Bias in the Workplace: How to Take Care of Your...

Avoiding Age Bias in the Workplace: How to Take Care of Your Older Workers

Senior Business Man

Do a quick search online for articles about millennials and you’ll be flooded with results. Since the millennial generation has entered the workforce, this generation has dominated headlines with controversies, lessons, and new age approaches to business.

In the meantime, older generations and traditional ways of doing business have been pushed to the side. Apps have taken the place of paper in the office; new market demands have forced teams to shift their focus. Yes, many changes have taken place over recent years as millennials have entered the workforce, but one of them isn’t talked about as much as it should be: age bias.

Age bias isn’t a bias against inexperienced workers; it’s a bias against older workers who have been loyal to your company for years. This type of bias is dangerous as it can cause older generations to feel demotivated. In turn, this lack of motivation could stunt your team’s productivity levels.

What can you do to stop it? Let’s take a closer look.

Address age bias head-on

Many people don’t realize they have an age bias. If you ask your managers and team members, chances are they’ll say they don’t give age much thought or consideration. Although that may be true on the surface, many people unconsciously impart their own experiences with people based on a variety of factors (age being one of them) on others as they work with them.  

Train your managers to become self-aware of these biases. They’re human, which means they have a natural tendency to lean on their gut reaction for decisions and new ideas. By training them to be aware of this gut reaction, or unintentional bias, you can help your managerial staff foster a better work environment for your older workers.

Offer new career paths

Has an older worker hit a dead end in their current position? This person might want to advance, but might be unaware of the potential opportunities available to them. This leaves them with two options:

  1. They continue working in their current position but are demotivated, which naturally leads to a lack of productivity;
  2. They leave your company to find work with your competitor, leaving you with an open position.

Usually, neither situation is ideal. The way to avoid either of these from happening is to carve new career paths for people when they hit dead ends. Pave a new road for your employees, so that they’ll be excited about their jobs and continue producing exceptional work for your company. Sometimes, a little shake-up can work wonders.

RELATED: How to Manage Multiple Generations of Workers

Provide continued education

Too often, age biases prevent older workers from being given new opportunities. If someone is nearing retirement, it might be assumed that they are not interested in advancing their skill set. In turn, they are not offered continued educational opportunities to learn new skills.

This is a big mistake. Many older workers are excited about the idea of sharpening their skill set, and adding to their educational toolbox. By offering all workers, regardless of age, these opportunities, you’ll keep your employees invested in your business longer, making them (and you) more productive overall.

Offer training on company-wide technology

Like any system in your business, technology works best when it’s embraced by everyone on your team. Imagine if one person insisted on printing documents, such as the schedule, while the everyone else worked collaboratively via the cloud? The one person with the hard copy would be out-of-date on changes, which could cause confusion amongst the entire team.

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