Tackling Age Discrimination in the Workplace: HR Best Practice
Would it surprise you to hear, according to the Department for Work and Pensions , age-related discrimination and stereotyping in the workplace remains firmly rooted in British society?
Recent research supported this, unveiling there is ‘little evidence’ of UK employers taking proactive steps to engage and retain older workers according to Cranfield School of Management and Nottingham Business School for Acas.
Particularly with the government predicting by 2020 there will be around 25 million people over the age of 50 in the UK. This fact alone shows our attitude to employing and retaining an older workforce needs a radical overhaul.
Whether it’s making offensive remarks about an older person’s age, treating co-workers of a certain age differently or turning down a candidate for their extra years – age discrimination in Great Britain is illegal and can severely damage a company’s reputation. So how can you prevent age discrimination in your workplace?
Here are some steps that can be taken to ensure that you build a diverse workforce with high morale:
Review your Process: Examine your work processes from initial recruitment and employment terms and conditions to promotions, training, redundancy and dismissals. Think about how you employ people and ensure there is no potential direct or indirect age discrimination.
Create an Age Discrimination Policy: Demonstrate your commitment to a supportive work environment for employees of all ages by implementing a policy as well as reporting and grievance procedures.
Don’t Ask for ‘Date of Birth’: When recruiting, don’t ask candidates for their ‘date of birth’, instead ask if they are over the minimum age required to legally work at your establishment.
Make Everyone Aware: Announce your age discrimination policy in a staff meeting, and ensure all directors and managers are on board and committed to upholding it. You could even incorporate it into your employee handbook and post on bulletin boards so it can be seen by all staff.
Encourage Mentoring: Pair younger and older workers together on projects. Workers of any age can pass on their experience and help others develop. What’s more, companies which embrace mentoring tend to be warm and all-encompassing places to work.
Promotions and Training: Are your promotion and job-related training opportunities available to all employees regardless of age? Ensure everyone is encouraged to participate and advertise these openings in places that will be viewed by people of all ages.
The authors of the research paper The Employment Relations Challenges of an Ageing Workforce conclude that if the UK economy is to fully benefit from the skills and experience of its older workers, a larger proportion of organisations will need to adopt age management policies and practices which are effectively communicated to their workforces.
Either way, it’s clear to say age discrimination will continue to be prevalent in today’s society, but rightfully so, it is an issue which should be discouraged from any organisation’s culture.
If you’re looking for more information on ways in which you can tackle age discrimination in the workplace, Citizens Advice, provide some great information for employees and employers alike.
How do you prevent age discrimination in your organisation? Maybe you’ve been a victim of discrimination yourself? Share your experiences with us below.