How to prevent age discrimination from occurring in the workplace
Age discrimination is a real problem in the workplace, affecting more than half of the American workforce. To address this issue, The Equal Opportunity Commission [EEOC] enacted the Age Discrimination in Employment Act [ADEA]. The law prohibits discrimination in any aspect of employment, including, hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoffs, training, benefits, and any other condition of employment. It also deems harassment of a person because of their age unlawful. In Part 1, we detailed a few examples of ageism so that you can recognize the bias…but how do you stop it from occurring in the first place?
As with most problems, prevention is key. Here are a few steps you can take to help prevent ageism from happening in your office:
- Start with the hiring process. First make sure your application forms allow people to set unrestrained dates for their education and work experience. Another option is to disregard setting dates at all and allow a simple “yes” or “no” answer to questions about education and years of experience. Always remember to base hiring on merit, qualifications, and skills, not age.
- Offer continuous training and employee enrichment opportunities for all levels of employees. Regularly training your employees on anti-discrimination practices can only help avoid those problems. Giving all your employees the chance to enhance their knowledge or skills will make them better employees who feel valued at their job.
- Actively promote a work-life balance. Flexible work schedules or compensatory time benefits employees of all age groups, whether they are baby boomers, Gen Xers, or millennials.
- Encourage employees to socialize. Promoting positive employee relations through casual social activities, like luncheons, leads to a friendlier and more enjoyable work environment.
- Create a mentorship program. Ask more experience workers to mentor newer employees and share trade secrets and job-specific knowledge. This will also contribute to a cohesive, collaborative, and friendly work atmosphere.
These are just a few suggestions for preventing age bias before it happens. However, you should still fully address age discrimination claims when they do arise. Also, make sure to display the “EEO is the Law” poster and include an anti-discrimination policy and investigation procedure in your employee handbook or manual.