[Blog 18] Been There, Done That: Ageism Or Attitude?
With the ongoing debate about age discrimination in the workplace that has transpired over time, it’s hard to ignore statistics and disregard the fact that ageism is real. From what we’ve anecdotally seen and heard, we know older workers are subjected to poorer ratings when it comes to performance appraisals, as well as less opportunities for career development. While there might be no empirical support for the relationship between age and job attitudes, hopping on the argument in pursuance of eradicating the problem might just be trivial at best, especially when you do not analyse the situation more closely.
It is important to put yourself into the shoes of an employer to fathom why he or she takes a potential employee’s age very seriously. In fact, your age reflects a lot about what you have (or do not have) to offer at the present stage of your life and career. Characteristics closely associated with older workers are that they are adamant and fastened to their old ways, so younger managers resist hiring them to avoid dragging the work unit down and risk productivity.
Many times, the problems with older workers arise from a “been there, done that” attitude—old folks have cultivated strong opinions from their years of experience and hence, tend to be less open to new ideas. Some might also say that this demographic are not willing to learn because they are fearful of evolving technologies. Bear in mind that while not all of these stigmas among older workers are true, it does not necessarily mean that they do not exist. It’s true that other age groups might also reflect such unfavourable habits but these perceptions are heavily linked to them because they are actual scenarios that employers experience first hand.
The primary issue here is not solely age, but the attitude and negative stance that comes together with the older generation, who must start to embrace change in order to erase these notions. Knowledge and proficiency that is stagnant with decades of experience will not thrive in a time where advanced technologies are emerging and outdated concepts are diminishing. Older workers must learn to embrace change and be more adaptable towards doing things differently. In the pursuit of anything, it is crucial to adopt a positive mindset and be realistic about what you are capable of doing as well as what you wish to accomplish—only then will you be able to gain a rewarding experience and succeed.