Young Money: Battling age stereotypes in the workplace
blog by Caitlin Campbell McNulty • April 11, 2012 @ 9:23am
When do you stop being a young professional, and just become a “professional?” It seems like a lot of people are quick to label our generation of workers. Why not just call us colleagues?
Does it really matter if I’m a Millennial, or part of Gen Y, or whatever title you want to put on me? Yes, I’m pretty good with Facebook and Twitter—but those aren’t the only skills I have. And by the way, I recognize the fact that my older peers have years of knowledge that I’ve yet to accumulate. I’d be happy to miss happy hour this week in order to listen to some of the interesting war stories from when you first started your career.
As if workers didn’t have enough -ism’s to contend with, society has decided to add a new one to the mix—ageism. Unfortunately, it’s becoming more and more prevalent in workplaces across the country. With many workers putting off retirement due to the recession and competition across the board for job openings, those who are employed can get territorial about how things are done or who they’re done by. That does not mean that your ideas or opinions are worth less just because you utilize technology. It may just mean your co-workers are concerned it will make them obsolete.
The idea of ageism is something that companies have truly acknowledged and are working to correct. Many HR professionals and practitioners around the country are offering seminars and workshops on spotting and combating ageism as well as providing tips to ensure that every generation of worker feels needed and appreciated.
The efforts being taken by employers to combat ageism are certainly a step in the right direction. Now what if we turned the idea of ageism on its head and made it stand for learning and growing—no matter how old you are or how long you’ve been in the workforce?
I know that I don’t have all the answers. That’s why mentors and managers who give guidance are so important. But sometimes, they don’t have all the answers either. By blending our ideas, learning from the past and growing towards the future, everyone can be relevant, no one will be threatened and business can continue to grow based on the merit of the idea, not the age of the person who came up with it.