Is Ageism Hurting Your Dealership?

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They say age is nothing but a number, but in society, that’s far from true.

Ageism is rampant everywhere, especially in the workplace. Your dealership may be promoting this form of prejudice without even knowing it.

Why hiring older employees is beneficial

Blatant ageism is illegal, yet employers quietly partake in the practice on a regular basis. Hiring managers view older applicants as “over the hill” and unfit for certain tasks. Speaking of which, the definition of “old” is getting younger all the time. According to recent studies, some companies now view 40 year-olds as washed up.

To recruit younger applicants – and turn away gray hairs – employers use subtle tactics. For example, they may only place adds on social media geared towards 20-somethings, or post listings littered with phrases like “fresh” and “college graduates”. Also, the media displayed in the add, or on the company website, almost always feature people under thirty years of age.

But by turning away older job applicants, companies are missing out on some potentially great workers. I have learned to appreciate the integrity, skill, and knowledge older generations possess.

So, next time you’re hiring, keep in mind some of the positive attributes offered by older employees.

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1. Experience

One of the biggest fears employers have is that senior employees won’t be able to use modern digital equipment and programs. What they need to understand, however, is that today’s technology can be taught, but a lifetime of wisdom cannot. Older workers have accumulated a lifetime of knowledge and experience – and that’s something no fresh-faced, recent college grad is ever going to have.

2. Commitment

When you’re younger, the grass is always greener (trust me, I speak from experience). As a result, people in their 20s are less likely to stick around than someone older. Typically, people over 40 have learned to appreciate a good job and will commit themselves to stay.

3. Work ethic

I’m a millennial (on the cusp, but it counts) who works 70-plus hours a week. So, I certainly don’t think millennials are lazy like many make them out to be. But I have distinct respect for the work ethic held by older people. Most don’t make excuses – they show up on time every day and get the job done.

How to prevent ageism in your dealership

There’s a good chance ageism has crept into your dealership. Stereotypes have made this form of prejudice the norm.

In movies and on television, older people are depicted as unenergetic, slow-moving and slow-learning. Meanwhile, dashing 20-somethings are out conquering the world with their success. It’s deplorable, but somehow these images have managed to affect the way older people are treated.

Don’t let society and the media corrupt your hiring process. Use these strategies to recruit stellar older workers and fight ageism in the workplace.

1. Pay close attention to your recruiting campaign

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Stay clear of using age-bias descriptors in your recruiting campaign. For example, replace the term “recent graduate” with entry-level. Also, make sure any embedded images or media depict people of all age groups, not just those in their 20s.

Where you place your job listing is also important. It’s true no one reads the newspaper “help wanted” adds anymore, but that doesn’t mean you need to market exclusively on Twitter. Places like job boards (Monster, Indeed – even Craigslist) are generally age-neutral, as are job fairs.

2. Hire Book and promote based on qualification

Whether you’re hiring a new employee or promoting an existing one, race, gender and age should not come into play. Instead, the choice should be made based on the individual’s qualifications and skills. And don’t make assumptions – age doesn’t determine compatibility.

3. Train managers and employees

Most dealerships have some form of anti-discrimination training in place. But the majority of it focuses on race and gender while neglecting age. Make sure everyone – from upper-management to entry-level employees – understands ageism will not be tolerated.

4. Offer continued education for everyone

Older workers want to continue to learn and build their skill set. Yet, many times, companies only offer training to new hires and those early in their career. Providing continuing education for everyone will build morale, and increase productivity.

5. Don’t push older employees out the door

Some companies nudge older workers out the door – sometimes subtly, sometimes not-so-subtly. Not only is this morally corrupt it’s also inefficient. Laying off a seasoned employee means you’ll have to hire someone new to fill their role. That person will come with all of the expenses involved with training and onboarding.

Remember: we all get older

Sure, it’s a cliché, but time waits for no one. Barring the unforeseen, we will all get old eventually. Think about it – do you want to be on the other side of ageism when you’re over 50?

Discrimination of any kind is unacceptable. Make fighting ageism a priority, just like other forms of prejudice such as sexism and racism. Not only will you build a better workplace, but you’ll feel better about yourself.

Sources: 

https://hiring.monster.ca/hr/hr-best-practices/recruiting-hiring-advice/strategic-workforce-planning/ageism-workplace-canada.aspx

https://money.usnews.com/money/retirement/articles/2015/09/18/5-reasons-employers-should-hire-more-workers-over-age-50

https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/behavioral-competencies/global-and-cultural-effectiveness/pages/viewpoint-how-to-steer-clear-of-ageism-in-the-workplace.aspx

https://www.npr.org/2017/03/24/521266749/too-much-experience-to-be-hired-some-older-americans-face-age-bias