In today’s corporate landscape, a positive company culture isn’t just a desirable bonus; it’s a fundamental necessity for the success of any business. And part of this is ensuring that your work environment is age-inclusive.
Age UK defines an age-inclusive workplace as “one where employees of all ages have an effective voice, feel respected, valued, and able to fulfil their aspirations and potential.” Not to be confused with age diversity – which involves the makeup of your workforce – an inclusive culture focuses more on your employees’ experience.
Creating an age-inclusive atmosphere has many benefits. Not only can it boost your ability to attract a diverse range of talent and help you reap the rewards of a multigenerational workforce, but it can also foster a sense of value and belonging among your employees.
This, in turn, can boost job satisfaction, engagement levels, and overall performance, which can positively impact your bottom line.
With this in mind, we’ve pulled together seven tips for creating an age-inclusive company culture.
1. Start with education
There are many ways that ageism can occur in the workplace. People can hold biases unconsciously as well as consciously, so employees might not even know they possess them. Plus, due to commonly held stereotypes and discrimination, employees may also experience internalised ageism, where they have ageist views about themselves.
Therefore, an important part of raising awareness about ageism is educating your employees on the different forms it can take so that attitudes and instances can be recognised and addressed.
It’s also worth introducing your employees to the many benefits of a multigenerational, age-inclusive workforce. If people understand how positive the results can be, they’ll be more likely to adjust their actions.
For more information on educating employees on ageism in the workplace, you can contact us at [email protected].
2. Take a look at your recruitment strategies
Addressing your recruitment strategies is essential if you’re interested in creating a more age-inclusive company culture. The hiring process is the first step in any employee’s journey at your company, and how inclusivity is handled at this stage will set a precedent for their entire time with you.
Plus, by ensuring your hiring strategies are as age-inclusive as possible, you’ll have a better chance of attracting a wider range of top talent and reaping the benefits of a multigenerational workforce.
There are many ways to enhance the inclusivity of your hiring processes – such as clearly expressing your commitment to age diversity in job adverts and using neutral, unbiased language. For more advice, take a look at our article; 7 ways to make your recruitment strategy more age-inclusive.
3. Reevaluate what perks and benefits you offer
As the Centre For Ageing Better tells us, older workers seek similar benefits from their work as younger ones. These include wanting to engage in meaningful and intellectually stimulating work, along with opportunities for learning and progression.
However, part of fostering an age-inclusive workplace involves recognising and accommodating the needs and values of different generations. For example, workers over 50 may be more likely to have caring responsibilities, so some may value flexible opportunities more. Flexible working can also be helpful for staff going through menopause.
With this in mind, offering roles with flexible arrangements – such as remote work, part-time work, and job sharing – may help you attract top talent from the pool of older workers and foster a more age-inclusive culture.
When it comes to caring responsibilities, you may also want to consider granting employees additional special leave. And with regards to menopause, more and more companies are waking up to the benefits of offering a workplace menopause policy, which you can find guidance on here.
4. Offer development opportunities to all of your staff
While it’s important to try and recognise the needs and values of different generations, it’s equally important not to make assumptions about what workers might want based on age – as this is a form of ageism in itself.
One mistake companies make is assuming that mature workers aren’t interested in training programmes. For example, this 2021 study tells us that over a third of over 55s hadn’t received training in the last 10 years, and this YouGov poll suggests that only one in five workers feel encouraged to participate in learning opportunities.
However, as recruiter Laurel McDowell tells the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), “Seasoned employees still have a desire to do interesting, challenging work and to advance in their duties and roles.” Therefore, it’s important to offer and encourage training and upskilling opportunities to all of your staff.
5. Consider creating an equality and diversity officer role
For many companies, the first way to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace is to provide their employees with short, one-off DEI training. However, various research shows that this isn’t necessarily an effective solution.
In fact, studies tell us that the positive effects of this type of training don’t typically last. Research has even found that organising mandatory diversity training for managers may do more harm than good. This is because participants can feel forced into changing their practices and, as Jess Singal tells us, even blamed for existing DEI issues – which can further entrench their biases.
However, research indicates that some DEI training initiatives can work, provided they’re conducted over a significant period, across the whole business, involve awareness and skill development, and work to involve managers rather than alienate them.
For larger companies, some experts recommend creating an in-house equality and diversity officer role to combat these issues. This person can oversee, implement, and measure the success of these ongoing initiatives, giving them a greater chance of succeeding.
6. Set up a mentoring programme
Another great way to foster an age-inclusive company culture is to create opportunities for different generations to interact and collaborate.
Encouraging intergenerational interactions won’t only help you get the most from your age-diverse workforce, but research shows that it can also help to reduce ageism. And one of the best ways to do this is through mentoring programmes.
The UK is one of the most age-segregated countries in the world. In fact, this 2020 report by United for All Ages tells us that many UK citizens have little to no contact with people of other generations outside of their families – and this ‘age apartheid’ extends to the workplace too.
For example, in larger companies, many junior employees often have very few interactions with senior staff members. These age divides are only worsened by things like remote working, as they can reduce spontaneous workplace interactions.
Strategies like mentoring programmes can help to break down these barriers and forge connections between employees of all ages. They also come with many other benefits – which you can read about here.
7. Celebrate your age-inclusive workforce
One of the best ways to promote the value of age-inclusiveness within your organisation is to celebrate the successes of your age-inclusive workforce – whether that’s someone who retrained in later life or a hiring manager who’s built a thriving intergenerational team.
Celebrating these stories is one way to make age-inclusiveness a visible company value to your employees, which can have a significant impact on behaviour.
As Terrence Deal and Allan Kennedy write in their book Corporate Cultures: The Rites and Rituals of Corporate Life, “If employees know what their company stands for, if they know what standards they are to uphold, then they are much more likely to make decisions that will support those standards.”
Here at Rest Less, we work with employers not only to improve the age-inclusiveness of their companies but to change attitudes towards age in the broader world of work – and one way we do this is by sharing inspiring stories. So, if you’ve got an age-inclusive success story that you’d like to share, why not get in touch at [email protected]?
As we’ve said, creating an age-inclusive company culture is essential for the success of modern businesses, and we hope that these seven tips have given you a good idea of how to improve yours.
Is your company striving for a more age-inclusive culture? If so, how are you doing it? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.