Even millennials are becoming victims of ageism as Gen Z take over the office

Ageism is often associated with discrimination against older individuals, commonly believed to start at the age of 50. However, recent insights challenge this perception by highlighting that ageism can actually begin as early as 40. This issue has prompted the formation of the Age Diversity Network, led by Michael O'Reilly, who personally experienced ageism and now helps people find employment and encourages companies to address this problem. Professor Lynda Gratton supports this observation, stating that ageism affects women as young as 40 and men as young as 45. This gender gap may not come as a surprise, but it should serve as a wake-up call for millennials who are now at risk of experiencing ageism themselves. 

There is a growing interest in the subject of generational diversity in the workplace, with a particular emphasis on the perspectives of older employees. Young workers are often viewed as cheap and technologically adept, making them attractive to companies. This focus on youth can be attributed to the fear expressed by 40% of global CEOs, who believe that their businesses may not remain economically viable due to future political, economic, and technological disruptions. Millennials may represent a sense of stability for these CEOs. 

While there is increasing political attention to supporting older workers, initiatives such as scrapping pension allowances or implementing corporate returnships or mid-life MOTs only address the immediate issue and fail to recognize the long-term implications of an aging workforce over the next two decades. Ageism has been referred to as the last acceptable form of prejudice, and it is further perpetuated by cultural differences and workplace etiquette. Older individuals, especially men, may feel professionally marginalized and uncertain of the workplace norms. Workplace well-being programs are often geared towards addressing burnout rather than age-related health concerns.

The diversity, equity, and inclusion movement, with its emphasis on bringing one's whole self to work, is also seen by many as prioritizing the interests of younger employees. Some older workers feel that truly embracing their whole selves in the workplace could result in negative consequences. It is crucial for businesses to recognize that experienced workers often feel overlooked, undervalued, and misunderstood in the evolving cultural landscape.

In addition to the focus on Generation Z, companies should also consider the needs of millennials who may not have the same financial stability to retire early as previous generations. These individuals require support in acquiring artificial intelligence (AI) skills, career development, as well as managing physical health and caregiving responsibilities.

The integration of AI into the workforce is seen as a potential benefit for older employees, as it often relies less on digital skills and more on human critical thinking. In a digital age, human skills are becoming increasingly valuable, and older workers tend to possess these skills in abundance. As technology disrupts the notion that age determines one's place in the workforce, the future is likely to see age becoming more fluid than ever before.

To address these challenges and foster a more inclusive work environment, it is important for employees of all generations to develop empathy and collaborate with one another. This is particularly relevant for Gen Z, who can benefit from courses that teach them how to work effectively alongside their more experienced colleagues. Age diversity is essential for ensuring the long-term viability of a business, but it is equally important to provide support to employees at all stages of life. Ultimately, the shared experience of aging unites all individuals, regardless of age or generation.  

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post