Employers are increasingly becoming aware of the benefits of having a diverse workforce. As a result, the modern workplace is rapidly becoming diverse in terms of age. The situation presents both benefits and challenges to the employers. Among the most profound challenges that emerge from an age-diverse workplace is age discrimination. This paper analyzes the concept of age diversity with respect to its benefits and threats as well as examines the issue of age discrimination. The paper also recommends measures for eliminating age discrimination in the workplace.
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Most organizations have a diverse workforce that features almost all the generational categories in society. With the current growth of interest among employers to recruit employees over the age of 55 years, the modern workplace is becoming increasingly diverse. As time progresses and as a workforce generation advances in age, an organization is sometimes forced to seek younger employees to occupy the starting roles.
For instance, according to Patrick and Kumar (2012), in American society, most established corporations have the Baby Boomers occupying most top positions while the majority from Generation Y are in starting positions. However, this trend is steadily changing as employers are currently discovering a fortune in hiring employees over the age of fifty-five. The resultant age diversity presents both benefits to the organization as well as challenges to the managers.
Policies that enhance age discrimination
According to Rood (2010), the 21st-century business environment is becoming very dynamic and competitive. As a result, every organization is devising ways and means of enhancing productivity and profitability in the wake of intense industry competitions. Due to some stereotypes, some employers come under pressure to attract young employees, thinking that they will ensure the realization of business success.
One of the implications of this pressure to succeed is the emergence of age discriminatory policies and procedures in the workplace (Robbins & judge, 2015). These include the arbitrary limits in terms of hiring, promotion, benefits, working conditions, retirement, and discharge based on the employee’s age rather than his or her performance. These policies are mostly backed by age stereotypes that view some age groups in the workforce as inefficient and exhausted with regard to their job performance capabilities.
Age discrimination also implies the formulation of regulations and policies that seem to disadvantage a particular age group unfairly. In most cases, these discriminatory policies are directed towards older employees and tend to offer the younger employees an unwarranted advantage over their older colleagues. This can be in terms of their benefits, packages, and even work contracts or conditions.
As pointed out by Rood (2010), among the most profound explanations for the existence of age discriminatory policies in some organizations is the assumption that older employees are lesser performers, yet their conditions require some special considerations than their younger counterparts. The younger employees can also raise concerns when their counterparts get better treatment than them, considering that they perceive themselves as better performers. The desire to reap maximum profits among employers and managers also leads to the emergence of discriminatory policies.
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Eliminating Age Discrimination in the Workplace
The organization’s management can effectively manage age diversity in the workplace by doing away with age discriminatory policies. In addition, managers can come up with clear expectations for performance to ensure that the output of all employees is standardized irrespective of their age. Problems that might arise as a result of the different worldviews in the featured ages should also be dealt with directly by the managers to ensure that long-lasting solutions are achieved.
According to Robbins and Judge (2015), effective communication between the employer or manager and the employee can help unearth any problems that might be threatening cohesiveness and harmony in the workplace. Through the formation of age-diverse teams, the relationship between employees can be transformed into a mutually beneficial one. As such, older employees can get to learn some of the new techniques that can enhance their job performance in the 21st century. In return, they can pass on their job experience strengths to the younger employees.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Age Diversity
Age diversity presents numerous outstanding benefits. For instance, workers from different generations often bring to the table different forms of creativity, perspectives, and views (Patrick & Kumar, 2012). On the positive note, these differences can be effective in enhancing some of the fundamental business outcomes such as problem-solving, customer experience, and even productivity. The different generations featured in a diverse workforce present unique work habits, values, views of authority, and abilities to balance their private lives and their official obligations at work. Managers can effectively manipulate these differences to their advantage.
However, the differences in the worldviews of employees from different generations can pose serious problems to workplace cohesiveness and harmony when not effectively managed. As claimed by Patrick and Kumar (2012), among the most common problems that are likely to arise as a result of age diversity in the workplace include a communication breakdown and lack of cooperation. This can be utterly detrimental to most of the workplace procedures and activities such as teamwork and employee-employee relations. As a result of the differences, the workforce may cease to function as a harmonious and effective work unit.
The many technological developments of the 21st century and research on the potentials of older workers have led to the restoration of the employers’ confidence in workers over the age of fifty-five years. As a result, the modern workplace is becoming more diverse in terms of age as the older employees take over a portion of positions formerly occupied by young employees. The situation presents new challenges for managers who have to devise measures of ensuring that the workforce is harmonious and cohesive. Age discrimination is one of the triggers of workplace conflicts that may be utterly detrimental to organizations. As such, there is a pressing need among managers to effectively manage age diversity in the workplace so as to maximize business outputs in their organizations.
Patrick, H.A.,& Kumar, V.R.(2012). Managing workplace diversity: Issues and challenges. Sage Journals, 10(1), 1-15. Web.
Robbins, S.P., & Judge, T.A. (2015).Organizational Behavior (16th Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc. Web.
Rood, A.S. (2010). Understanding generational diversity in the workplace: What resorts can and are doing. Journal of Tourism Insights, 1 (1), 1-10. Web.