Top tips | 3 ways HR can get better at age inclusivity

3 ways HR can get better at age inclusivity

According to data released in Workforce’s 2019 Ageism in the Workplace Study, the number of age-related discrimination charges filed with employers and the EEOC by workers aged 65-plus doubled from 1990 to 2017.

The same study noted that 44% of employees reported that they or someone they knew had experienced age discrimination in the workplace, whilst 21% said they had faced age discrimination themselves.

So, it’s clear that ageism – prejudice or discrimination based on a person’s age – is still a persistent issue within the UK workforce, and therefore should remain a key consideration for HR.

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But what can HR do to counteract this and improve age inclusivity in the workplace.

To find out, Patrick Thomson, Senior Programme Manager – Fulfilling Work at the Centre for Ageing Better, explained three key elements in achieving better age inclusion to HR Grapevine.

Read on to find out more.

Change our thinking about changing jobs

“We need opportunities to change jobs no matter our age, whether to progress, take on new challenges, or balance work with other needs,” Thomson said, who noted that often, age and perceived seniority can prevent older workers from being able to transform their own career.

“People need to move, up, down or sideways based on where they are in their life or their career, but they are often stuck because they are seen as too experienced, set in their ways, or lacking potential,” he explained.

As such, HR and employers should look to transform biases and therefore their mindset when reviewing the potential for older candidates.

The concept of someone being ‘too experienced’ or ‘too old to learn new skills’ is untrue and potentially discriminatory.

Older people feel unable to move

“A quarter of over 50s in our survey said they had wanted to move jobs, but felt unable to do so because of their age,” Thomson added.

“It is little wonder then that only 0.23% of people over the age of 50 voluntarily move jobs each quarter – less than half the rate of people in their 30s and 40s. This results in a lack of job mobility and people being stuck in jobs that become unsustainable,” he adds.

This puts the onus on HR to therefore ensure that continuous learning is taking place regardless of age or seniority, giving older workers the chance to expand their skillsets, and therefore opportunities to move roles.

Time is of the essence for employers and recruits alike

“Missing out on the best candidate, failing to represent customers and having a less diverse workforce all have business costs,” Thomson explained.

“In terms of the bottom line, a poor hire at middle-management level is estimated to cost a business over £130,000 to resolve. As employers try to recover these are costs they can’t afford.”

So, not only does discounting a significant portion of the workforce damage their own career path, but it can also lead to significant negative financial ramifications to the business.

“…With half of UK employers planning to recruit this year, we need to make sure that we hire back better, for everyone, whatever their age,” Thompson concluded.

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