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The Results: Ageism in the workplace survey

The Results – Ageism in the Workplace Survey

workingwise.co.uk recently launched an ‘Ageism in the Workplace’ survey and the results are now in.

When it comes to work, age is often omitted from other forms of diversity monitoring. Statistics show that older workers are a group that is likely to be disadvantaged, with those who lose their jobs expecting to find it harder than most to get a new one.

According to research by the Centre for Ageing Better, more than 400,000 over the 50s could be made redundant when the furlough scheme ends. Further analysis of Office for National Statistics figures by Rest Less finds that, once they have lost their jobs, older workers struggle more to get back into work and are two and a half times more likely to face long-term redundancy.

A major reason is a bias in the recruitment process. Our workingwise.co.uk survey found over two-fifths of older workers have experienced age discrimination at work, with the recruitment process being the worst offender.

The survey of more than 600 workers aged 50 and over, sponsored by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and UBS, found 44% had experienced age discrimination at work compared to 41% who had not, with 48% singling out the recruitment process, compared to 40% who felt sidelined or left out of discussions at work generally and 24% who said they had experienced discrimination when it comes to promotion.

Unsurprisingly, this correlated with 44% who said they had experienced barriers to getting a job due to their age. Drilling down more into the recruitment process, 84% said they thought it was harder to get shortlisted because of their age. A quarter admitted to tweaking their cv to disguise their age, mainly due to perceived ageism by recruiters.

However, once recruited, 76% said they were upfront about their age at work. Nevertheless, 27% thought their employer didn’t value their experience; 52% have seen less experienced colleagues promoted over them, and 61% said their employer doesn’t rate their life experience enough.

So what would make things better? For many, positive and visible role models of older workers are important – this was considered the most important marker of an age-friendly employer. Other popular practices include more flexible working and more age-inclusive language in job adverts and generally. Over a third would also like to see more mid-life career reviews and it was clear from the study that employers need to do more to support certain groups, such as carers and women going through the menopause.

Gillian Nissim, the founder of workingwise.co.uk, which works with employers to recruit older workers and recognise their value in the workplace, said: “The scale of concerns about age discrimination, particularly when it comes to the recruitment process, shows how much work there is to do to ensure over the 50s – the fastest growing section of the workforce – are not unfairly overlooked and held back in the labour market. Given we will all have to work longer, many past the official retirement age, there is an urgent need for employers to reach out to this demographic.”

by: Mandy Garner  – Editor of workingwise.co.uk

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