The workplace today is saturated by news regarding how employers should treat millennials. Every day, there is new information released on how the workplace can be adapted to appeal to the progressive living and working habits of this generation. Although it is important for employers to understand how to treat millennials and appeal to them, the rest of the workforce should not be forgotten.
According to Time Magazine, millennials are the largest population in the workforce. However, they gained that title only very recently when they outnumbered Baby Boomers in 2015. In the same year, Pew Research Center identified that there were still 45 million Baby Boomers remaining in the workforce. Although that number has declined from its height of 77 million in 1997, there are still a large number of hard-working, talented employees remaining.
The Value of Older Employees
All employers know the value of experience. Finding an employee that has experience in an applicable field of work, as well as transferable skills and a strong work ethic, is difficult. Baby Boomers and other aging employees with a proven track record are valuable because they possess these three qualities. When entering the workforce, the older generation operated under the philosophy of finding a good company, working hard, and sticking with that company for a long period of time and, if possible, until retirement. These philosophies helped the Baby Boomer generation to become fully immersed in a company’s culture and processes, making them very valuable. Additionally, one of their biggest assets is the ability to pass on what they have learned from their experience.
Creating a Culture of Respect
Despite the workplace currently becoming dominated by a younger demographic of tech-savvy and innovative employees, employers must remember that the experienced members on their team are invaluable.
In the workplace, there should be a common culture of respect for all employees, including the older, aging employees. In order for employers to set a precedent of respect, they should continue to foster their professional development and growth, not overlooking them for promotions.
Ageism Rules and Regulations
As an employer not only it is it morally right to respect aging employees in the workplace, it is also the law. All employees have rights that should be communicated to them and understood by the employer in order to avoid litigation, but aging employees have a certain set of rights that keep them from being discriminated against. For employers, it is very important to understand this specific set of rules and make sure that they are being abided by within the workplace.
Age discrimination is something to be taken very seriously. By definition from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, age discrimination involves treating an applicant or employee less favorably because of his or her age. In 1967, this type of discrimination was recognized on a federal level when the U.S. government implemented the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. This act forbids any type of discrimination against employees over 40 years old. Specifically, these employees are protected against discrimination in hiring, firing, raises, promotions, job assignments, layoffs, training, benefits, or any other direct terms of employment. It is important to remember that ageism and litigation an employer can still occur, even if both employees in a scenario are over the age of 40.
It is important to remember that although there is a federal regulation in place protecting aging employees, there are also laws to be aware of at the state level. Almost all states have adopted the age of 40 as the age where ageism laws go into effect, however, most states also have other regulations in place protecting its employees. These laws often include language regarding the discouragement of discrimination related to race, sex, physical preferences, social class, and religion among other things. As an employer, it is important to be familiar with your state laws in order to avoid consequences.
The Consequences of Ageism
Instilling a culture of mutual respect among employees and especially for aging employees is very important to the overall success of a business. If accused of ageism, a company can suffer extensive financial expenses through lawsuits as well as many other repercussions. If accused or convicted of age discrimination, a company’s reputation can be tarnished forever. A broken reputation related to ageism may prevent the attraction of new customers and valuable employees as well as cause for revolt among current employees.
Understanding the laws related to business is important as an employer, but valuing employees is even more so. Treat all employees with respect, foster their growth, offer them exciting opportunities and celebrate their success. If these ideas are implemented for all employees, ageism will not be a concern.
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