A recent lawsuit against a social media giant, X, alleging a mass layoff involving its older employees triggers presumptions that ageism continues to permeate through the U.S. workplace.
While this case involves older adults, ageism, or discrimination based on age, goes both ways. An academic study finds that even younger employees lament the trivialization of the depth and range of their work knowledge, skills and insight.
Regardless of an employee’s standing in the age spectrum, psychologists advance new efforts to reframe aging biases.
Debunking aging biases at work
Psychologists claim that aging is not necessarily synonymous with decline.
Although diseases usually attack the body as a person ages, the process still varies. Depending on unique lifestyle choices, old employees may maintain good health and deliver optimal results. More harmful to their physical performance instead are falsely based fatalistic perceptions.
Researchers also assert that older employees’ creativity does not diminish by default with their reaction times, which may naturally slow down over time. In fact, their acquired focus and wisdom through the years can only help to drown out distractions.
Contrary to popular belief, findings also show that the happiness curve is high for employees already in their later years. Older people tend to have more life satisfaction compared with their younger counterparts.
The academic industry further recognizes that combating age segregation at work, or society in general, requires collective efforts. One of the interventions they put forward is increasing intergenerational contact. This way, different age cohorts can learn and understand each other’s beliefs and value systems.
Strict implementation of government policies also plays a crucial role. Pennsylvania’s Human Relations Act and the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act have protections in place for workers aged 40 or older. It is illegal for any employer to dismiss an employee’s qualified skills without any reasonable justification and simply base their decisions on age.
Cultivating an age-just culture at work
Despite not making the headlines as often as other diversity dimensions, such as race and gender, age discrimination on the job still carries substantial risks. Older employees may suffer poor performance or fall ill due to low morale. When this happens, they must contemplate a strategy for building a claim. It will be invaluable to consult with their counsel to guide them in the complexities of establishing proof. Doing so can lead them to retire from work because they want to and not forced to.