When most of us think about discrimination in the workplace, we probably think about those employers who unfortunately discriminate against workers based on their gender, race, sexual orientation, or other similar characteristics. Though these forms of job discrimination do regrettably exist and affect the lives of thousands of workers across the country, there is another type of workplace unfairness that often goes overlooked.
Age discrimination in the workplace manifests itself in several different ways. During the hiring process, age discrimination tends to occur when a certain candidate for a job is dismissed or rejected due to his or her age.
According to one recent report:
“it generally takes older job seekers longer to find new employment. The median duration of unemployment for
older workers was 35 weeks in 2011, compared with 26 weeks for younger employees. And 55 percent of
unemployed older workers spent more than 27 weeks actively seeking a new job in 2011, up from less than a
quarter in 2007.”
Fighting Age Discriminiation In The Workplace
In an attempt to limit this type of age discrimination, The U.S. Department of Labor passed The Age Discrimination in Employment Act in 1967. This act “protects certain applicants and employees 40 years of age and older from discrimination on the basis of age in hiring, promotion, discharge, compensation, or terms, conditions or privileges of employment.”
Age discrimination can happen within workplace environments to employees who receive unfair or unfavorable treatment due to their age. No matter what industry you are in, older employees can be a huge asset to your workplace culture. Older employees can bring unique perspectives, years of experience, and the ability to mentor and guide young employees as well.
Below, we offer a few suggestions for how business owners and human resource managers can motivate and retain older workers.
Strategies for Motivating and Retaining Older Workers
Older employees can feel frustrated or challenged by some of the changes that occur in the workplace environment. For example, new technologies are evolving quickly, and older workers may struggle to learn and adopt these technologies. However, retaining older workers, even if there is a steeper learning curve in some aspects of the job, can yield tangible benefits for your company.
Research has confirmed that older employees are more likely to show up to work on time, and less likely to call in sick. Furthermore, hiring older workers can also cut back on your turnover rate, as older employees tend to not switch jobs as often as their younger colleagues. Also, older employees tend to have higher levels of maturity and professionalism, which results in a strong work ethic.
To motivate and retain older workers, consider some of the following strategies:
- Offer specific training and continued education.
If some of your older employees are having a hard time learning new technologies or techniques, consider offering specific training. Besides helping the employees learn the needed tools for the job, access to continued education opportunities can be considered a job perk.
- Create work teams that combine different ages.
When creating a work team for a specific job task, make an effort to partner older and younger employees. The differences in age and perspective can help to bring out the best in your workforce.
- Make your workplace accessible and comfortable.
Older workers will stay motivated and happy in a workplace environment that shows particular concern for their wellbeing. Depending on the type of industry you are in, you might consider offering exercise classes for your employees. Installing ergonomic office furniture will help keep your workers healthy.
Keep Your Workers Happier, Longer With Work-Fit
Lastly, you might consider hiring a third party, independent organization to help you develop policies to retain, motivate, and get the most out of working with your older employees. Work-Fitis one leading company that offers onsite and telehealth injury prevention and workplace wellness management for your workforce.
As the nationwide leader in applying sports medicine techniques in the workplace to prevent injuries and increase your company's bottom line, Work-Fit can help your company design and implement effective policies to keep your older workers happy and healthy, while also developing a more solid workplace culture.
Our injury prevention program, wellness management program, and ergonomics program are all great resources that can help your company put in place a preventive care model that can keep your elderly workers healthy, happy, and productive.
If you are interested in finding ways to motivate and retain your elderly workers, contact Work-Fit today to learn about how we can help your team.