The Multi-generational and Aging Workforce
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The Multi-generational and Aging Workforce

Challenges and Opportunities

Edited by Ronald J. Burke, Cary Cooper and Alexander-Stamatios Antoniou

The workforce is aging as people live longer and healthier lives, and mandatory retirement has become a relic of the past. Though workforces have always contained both younger and older employees the age range today has expanded, and the generational gap has become more distinct. This book advocates the need for talented employees of all ages as a way to prevent potential skill shortages and considers both the challenges and opportunities that these changes raise for individual organizations. The benefits they discuss include greater employee diversity with regards to knowledge, skills experience and perspectives, whilst challenges involve potential generational tensions, stereotypes and age biases. The book further places an emphasis on initiatives to create generation-friendly workplaces; these involve fostering lifelong learning, tackling age stereotypes and biases, employing reverse mentoring where younger employees mentor older employees, and offering older individuals career options including phased retirement, bridge employment and encore careers.
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Chapter 11: Age stereotypes and discrimination

Lisa A. Marchiondo


Considerable scientific, legal, and public effort has been devoted to understanding and remedying workplace discrimination. Despite positive strides in recognizing and addressing discrimination due to sex and race, many other forms of stereotypes and discrimination, such as ageism, quietly prevail in the workforce. At best, employers and coworkers are simply unaware of ageist attitudes and behavior (e.g., failing to invite an older coworker to a social outing); at worst, they condone and even encourage them (e.g., telling age-based jokes, actively dismissing a young coworker’s contribution). This chapter focuses on ageism, a form of discrimination still often tacitly accepted in Western societies. As the workforce becomes increasingly multi-generational and as the number of older workers continues to rise, age-related stereotypes and discrimination (the cognitive and behavioural manifestations of ageism, respectively) become increasingly important to address. This chapter explores ageism as it is directed toward both older and younger workers. I consider differences and similarities in their experiences, diverse in age as these workers may be. I also discuss the practical implications of ageism or, put differently, why organizations should care about this matter. In addition, I consider several of the many actions organizations and employees can take to reduce the presence and negative effects of ageism. I conclude by suggesting future directions for researchers interested in tackling the pervasive problem of ageism in the workplace.

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