There are always two faces of age discrimination in the workplace, but one has more difficult consequences than the other. The first involves discrimination against young people who, despite all their qualifications, managers often think are not mature enough to hold “serious” roles or manage others. Employers also discriminate against older people and might forcefully age them out of the workplace with hiring practices, demotions and forced retirement.
While this situation certainly held true many years ago, when the oldest millennials were only in their 30s, what is the situation like today? After all, millennials are now older and more employers seek the same generation they told even as little as five years ago that they were too young to lead.
Ageism in the Workplace
AARP reports that roughly 35% of America’s population belongs to the 50-and-over age group. While most people see 65 years old as the natural retirement age, many people do not wish to retire at 65 or do not have the means to do so. In fact, in households headed by someone 55 years or older, 29% have no pension or retirement savings in place.
Even worse, as workers close in on this retirement age, they begin to experience age discrimination more frequently:
- 76% of older workers believe that age might work against them when seeking employment.
- Roughly three in five older workers experienced age discrimination in the workplace.
- Even when researchers lower the age range to 45 or older, one in 4 workers experiences age discrimination.
Tactics Employers Resort To
NBC News reports that employers can get crafty when it comes to pushing older people out of the workplace. Some take subtle and even playful stances, such as continually asking when a particular older worker plans to retire or spend more time at home with family. Employers might even take a stronger but somewhat beneficial stance by offering severance packages to convince people to retire.
Ultimately, once people leave a job after 50 years old, it can become difficult to maintain career momentum. Not only might they struggle to find new jobs, but when they do, the pay and benefits might not hold true to the standards they once enjoyed.