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Age Bias in Hiring: Are You Overlooking Candidates Due to Their Age?

Whether intentional or not, age-related biases are baked into the recruiting process. Because of age discrimination, people in their 50s are more than twice as likely as other workers to be out of work for 2 or more years if they lose their current employment. Indeed, in a Resume Builder poll of industry experts conducted in February 2022, four out of ten recruiting managers responsible for “some or most of the hiring at their firm” admitted to age bias.

It’s not just older job seekers who are automatically turned down; young individuals might also be overlooked for positions due to their age. Although little study has been done on this form of ‘reverse‘ ageism, studies demonstrate that younger workers might be viewed as undesirable employees, leading to them not being retained.

Causes of Ageism

People’s ages shape perceptions of them and, consequently, how they are treated. They aren’t always negative; rather, treatment varies depending on the context, culture, socioeconomic status, physical ability, and other characteristics. This creates an element of “fear of difference“, which intentionally or inadvertently encourages ageism as the society grows to view older adults as less productive or less able and younger adults as more creative and productive, or less experienced or committed.

What are the Signs You are Discriminating Based on Age?

The age of candidates must only be required for a “bona fide occupational qualification” throughout the hiring process. This implies that the employer must establish that age is a legitimate question critical to the business’s operation. 

Employers must also avoid the subtler types of age discrimination that may exist. While you may not want to ask for an applicant’s age or date of birth on an employment application, performing the arithmetic based on when they graduated might be considered discriminatory if used to disqualify a candidate.

Consequences of Ageism

Age discrimination opens you up to several consequences. They include:

1. Loss of Talent

The most significant drawback of ageist recruiting policies is that businesses miss out on top talent since their candidate pool is small. That means businesses that want to keep ahead of the competition risk damaging their access to highly skilled and experienced people.

2. Damage to Productivity

Your employees will almost certainly observe active age discrimination in your firm. Knowing that you discriminate based on age can generate a hostile environment and an unfavorable view of your company management. Employees of a discriminatory organization are unlikely to be interested in enhancing productivity. In fact, your employees may be anxious that they may lose their employment due to their age or other forms of discrimination. Your employees may even go as far as leaving the organization.

3. Legal Liability

It is illegal to discriminate against current or prospective employees based on their age. Additionally, several states have enacted laws against age discrimination. You may fall into expensive and image-hurting lawsuits if you appear to be discriminating against age.

Benefits of a Diverse Age Pool

There are plenty of benefits of retaining a diverse age pool:

  • Increased Performance and Engagement

According to SHRM research, performance among all ages is higher in organizations with mixed-age work teams. Mixed-age workplaces can result in better satisfaction levels, which in turn optimizes employee engagement. 

When firms have personnel who are distinct from one another, there might be an increase in sensitivity levels. The employees then begin their search for common ground. Even if a team doesn’t like the idea of diversity at first, it may be the catalyst for increased production.

  • Reduced Employee Turnover

According to SHRM, older employees can contribute to decreased turnover by staying loyal to their positions longer than younger employees. Employers get lower turnover costs and more experienced staff.

Diverse workforces are more likely to reflect a wide range of individual traits and opinions. Employees who feel appreciated and valued at work are more likely to stay with a firm for an extended period. The more continuity a team has, the less turnover it will have to deal with.

  • Enhanced Innovation and Creativity

According to a study by Josh Bersin, organizations branded as inclusive are 1.7 times more likely to be industry leaders in innovation.

Age diversity in the workplace comes with a range of experiences, expectations, attitudes, and perspectives. When these distinctions are handled and managed properly, they provide the cornerstone of innovation. 

The willingness to create change is what creates an atmosphere that fosters innovation. Bouncing ideas off coworkers with various backgrounds might generate creative concepts. One coworker might come up with interesting ideas, while another may have the experience to put them into action.

  • Provides Learning Opportunities

Mentoring has several advantages in a multi-generational workplace. In a mixed-age workforce where firms respect knowledge, experience, and talent over age, employees will be able to educate, share, and learn from each other. While conventional work training is beneficial, developing mentoring connections is an excellent way to help your staff grow.

How to Avoid Age Bias When Hiring

You can eliminate age discrimination by designing your hiring process with care:

Don’t ask for unnecessary information during the hiring process. For instance, straying slightly off subject in an interview might get you into problems since it may expose information about the candidate’s age. Even seemingly innocuous information, such as the age of a person’s children or grandkids, might be damaging.

To avoid getting into trouble, get advice from a subject-matter expert. A good recruitment service provider can help you stay on track throughout the process. They can, for example, help you:

  • Avoid making obvious errors, such as asking for a candidate’s birthdate upfront.
  • Use a range of recruitment tactics to attract a varied pool of candidates.
  • Develop an application that doesn’t collect unnecessary data.
  • Create systematic interview guides to ensure that all applicants are given the same questions.

Eliminate Age Bias With TalVista

By allowing you to redact years (such as graduation year), which imply age, TalVista’s redacted resume technology makes resume screening more equitable. TalVista also provides structured interviewing software to help standardize and streamline interviews, removing the possibility of bias and speculation. Reach out to us today to schedule an appointment.