5 Ways to Help You Combat Ageism in the Workplace

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes -

Even though phrases like 60 is the new 40 are common, you wouldn’t think that employers still discriminate against older workers.

Often on social media, there are no shortages of people in their eighties and beyond running marathons and dancing pirouettes. Unfortunately, this good news has not caught on with everyone.

The reality of today’s workforce is that most people even at the magical age of 65 cannot afford to retire and sometimes need to work right up into their 70s.

Baby boomers and even those years’ younger may be shocked to discover that they are considered “too old.”

Ageism can include stereotyping, derision, evasion, and prejudice. You can be made to feel invisible in favor of other younger co-workers in your place of work, these attitudes can be very hurtful.

There are those who think that “aged” is not very appealing unless you’re Helen Mirren or a good bottle of wine.

Losing your job and finding yourself back in the job market can be extremely difficult for someone in their 50’s or 60’s.

If you are an older employee and are worried about the possibility of this happening to you, these five simple suggestions might help you keep your place.

1. Stay Proactive

Present a professionally polished image.

Be open to learning new things and taking courses to remain in the loop.

Don’t be afraid of change and remain eager to do so when necessary.

2. Maintain positive relationships

Remaining on excellent terms with your colleagues can help you be on the receiving end of confidential information and ensure that they always feel comfortable and at ease in your presence.

Co-workers may also be more willing to come forward as witnesses or provide written confirmation if they have seen or heard anything that indicates age discrimination has taken place.

3. Promote yourself

It doesn’t hurt to let employers know that statistics show that older workers have strong work ethics, excellent problem-solving skills, higher productivity and tend to have fewer sick days.

4. Know your rights

Becoming familiar with the law regarding age discrimination can be helpful in your situation. If you feel you have been discriminated against, you have the right to file charges.

5. Don’t assume anything

Don’t assume that being a hard worker will provide protection.

Maintain an updated resume and revise it weekly.

When a tough economy forces employers to lay off workers, sometimes the choice lies between a younger worker just starting or an older worker who has been there much longer.

There is no guarantee that seniority will help you keep your place.

If the worst should happen and you do become unemployed consider applying at companies that have a reputation for hiring and keeping older workers. Alternatively, you can always check into self-employment opportunities.

Remember It is illegal to ask for an employee’s age but be cautious on your social media sites and refrain from including your birth date as some employers will peruse these sites to find information about you.

Has age discrimination happened to you? Leave a comment and tell us your story. Before you leave, don’t forget to subscribe to this blog to receive new posts.

Thanks for reading, I hope to see you next time.

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  • I think being able to adapt and learn new things in an environment you have been in for a long time is a valuable skill and not an easy one!

    • Hi Laura, yes I agree the ability to adapt to new procedures is very important.

  • Suzanne Spiegoski-Decamps

    All about maintaining positivity!

    • Yes for sure being positive helps. Have a great day!

  • Zoë

    Very worthy topic. My mum went through a situation earlier this year where she was the oldest manager and she thought they all wanted her out because she was getting too old. Fortunately it was in her mind… But then they made everyone redundant anyway.

    I think it’s great you’re promoting awareness for such an important topic.

    • Hi Zoe, I think when you do get older and everyone around you is younger you start to fear for your position which is only natural.

  • Shelby Stover

    This is great! I’ts not something often discussed and these tips are really positive

    • Hi Shelby, thanks for the comment. Happy you stopped by.

  • Cori Pullin

    I agree. It’s rare to see older ones in the work force but have heard many of retirement age say they gotta work longer. These are really good points and tips to keep in mind 💕💕

  • Ophelia Tang

    These tips sound really true and effective. This is very useful to people like my parents. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks Ophelia I am glad you like it.

  • Age discrimination is not a spoken out, but it’s there. An employer will not tell you in an interview that you are too old for the job, rather, he will say you’ll hear from him. The answer that never comes

    • Hi Eki, yes it is a sad reality, they would never say that to your face that is for sure, or else they would be in lots of trouble.

  • Luci Cook

    Really great post. I feel like there are times when age plays a big roll in either getting hired or not. Sometimes they feel you are ‘too old’ and sometimes they feel that you are ‘too young’.

    • Yes unfortunately this is true there are so many factors involved on whether or not you get the job and I think age is a big one. Maybe they should hire people using phone interviews and experience then they can’t use age as a determinant.

  • I got fired when everyone in my office did: A new owner slashed everyone from the top to all but the five youngest employees. I was “lucky” to be asked to keep on doing some of what I was doing on a contract basis. I’m glad I took them up on it. Yes, I’m being underpaid, but it feels good to still be part of the enterprise. I work from home but when I come downtown for meetings, I make sure to put a smile on my face, be supportive and look my best. If my contract doesn’t get renewed, it won’t be because of age–it always gets down to money.

    • Yes I am sure you’re right most companies pay attention to the bottom line above all else. I am not sure I was laid off due to age but I was chosen to be let go over a women 20 years my junior who had been there 9 years less than myself. I can’t help thinking age played a role.

  • Amanda

    These are some really helpful tips for today’s older workers. No one is guaranteed a job anymore and its sad that some people seem to have to fight harder than others to find a position.

    • Yes Amanda you are right sometimes it’s all about the street appeal for a business. They feel by having younger workers it makes them look better to their customers/clients.

  • These are really helpful tips. I feel like different generations will always discriminate against each other despite our best efforts. Just as some generalise an entire generation into being addicted to phones, elder members of the community can be considered out of touch with technology.

    • Hi Rhonda, you are right about the stereotyping. It’s unfortunate for those of us who come up against these types of prejudice.

  • J Sus

    I am no longer employed but these are great tips to share and know about also.

    Jane @ http://www.thismamablogs.com
    I blog about finance and improving life

    • HI Jane, glad you stopped by. Thanks for commenting.

  • Jacqui

    Great tips and really motivational. It can be hard to fit into any workplace, even without ageism but when that’s added to it the pressure is real.

    • Hi Jacqui, thanks for the comment. I agree I think fitting in is the biggest challenge when starting a new job.

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