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The ugly truth behind ageism at work

  • Publish Date: Posted 23 September 2016
  • Author: AP Group

​During our 25 years of experience in the recruitment business, we have witnessed first hand the effects of ageism. Despite a majority of over-60s choosing to work beyond the retirement age, the rate at which employers have embraced the benefits of matured workers is highly disappointing.

Gina Le Prevost CEO of AP Group says: "The days of discrimination on the grounds of age should now be a thing of the past.  Unfortunately, a lot of employers still consider people in their 50s to be approaching retirement."

The average retirement age in most countries is inching towards 70; and by scrapping compulsory retirement, workers are being given full flexibility to work as long as they are productive (For example in the UK and Jersey). Laws across the UK and Europe have also been in favour of the ageing workforce - employers are generally not allowed to hire, dismiss, promote, or decide an employee's compensation based upon their age.

The dramatic rise in life expectancy is an indication that more and more men and women will be willing to work beyond their retirement ages, and a failure on the part of the employers to create an inclusive and mixed-aged workplace can have negative repercussions. One such effect is low candidate morale.

Gina says: "Some candidates I speak to, who are in their 50s, usually talk themselves down because they have been discriminated for so long that even they now believe they are too old to find work."

It is true that both senior and entry-level employees experience age discrimination in the workplace, but the mature are the worst victims of false stereotypes, especially in regard to their competence - often, resulting in the workers themselves submitting to these stereotypes.

While research backs that people up to the age of 70 can be as productive as their younger counterparts, the society often generalises this demographic as having some cognitive and physical limitations.

Unfortunately, most companies get caught up in the stereotypes and biases that are created by the society. The result is a loss of valuable experience, employee productivity, as well as accompanied financial and legal troubles. Earlier this year, our CEO issued a statement asking businesses to "quickly and effectively" adapt to the changing retirement laws for better integration and engagement of the ageing workforce.

"With the new pension age legislation coming into place (in the UK and Jersey), it is important for companies to adjust accordingly and not have the historical retirement ages in their contracts and procedures. [..] Companies have to adjust and embrace this new era of candidates who are now able to work longer. ," she said in the press release.

One of the reasons why most employers look favourably upon the Millennials is because of their mastery over all things digital. In today's age of technology, companies want to cash in on the power of the worldwide web and social media to drive sales and customer engagement. And this is where the millennial generation proves to be in the driver's seat.

But when it comes to maturity, loyalty and work ethics, mature employees tend to lead the way. The experience and business skills they bring to the table more than compensate for their lack of tech skills. Besides, it is important for all employers to incorporate relevant training programmes to give mature workers the opportunity to advance their careers, as well as offer mentoring opportunities for them to transfer their skills to the younger generation. However, what is more worrying is that despite policy changes and age-discrimination legislation, a significant proportion of over-50s continues to be overlooked during the hiring process (The Missing Million: Pathways back into employment). So what's the best way to tackle this problem?

"Legislation on its own will not eliminate ageism in the workforce, and companies have a crucial role in creating an inclusive and fair environment that not only attracts but also retains the skills of this demographic,"  suggests Gina.

AP Group is committed to ensuring that all staff are treated fairly, irrespective of their age and has taken measures to ensure that it fully meets the requirements of age-related legislation in all of its global jurisdictions ( 2010 Equality Act in the UK for example).  Age is not a factor in any decisions made concerning recruitment & selection, access to employee benefits, opportunities for promotion or training, performance management, application of discipline or capability procedures or selection for redundancy.

Quotes are taken from our previous press releases. To read the full articles, click on the links below:

AP Executive CEO: Companies need to quickly adapt to the new State Pension scheme for better integration of the ageing workforce. 

50s should now be considered the new 40s or even 30s, says Gina Le Prevost, AP Group CEO