Millennial Perspectives on Ageism

The typical age stereotypes in the workplace often regard the lackadaisical attitudes of younger employees. In a recent article titled Are Millennials Victims of Age Discrimination by Chip Espinoza, talent managers are posed with a different perspective for the age gap in today’s workforce.

What role does ageism play for those entering the workforce as opposed to those exiting the workforce?

Today’s scholars are expanding the definition of ageism to “widely held beliefs regarding the characteristics of people in various age categories.” With that in mind, there may be a kind of reverse ageism in which younger workers are impacted by negative stereotypes.

There is an obvious disconnect between generations. A recent Lee Hecht Harrison study disclosed that 70 percent of older employees are dismissive of younger workers’ abilities. A study by Espinoza and his colleagues found that more than 64 percent of university juniors and seniors working 20-plus hours a week felt that they were treated differently at work because of their age.

These students conveyed feelings of disregard or being condescended to for their lack of experience. Espinoza found that 60 percent of the working students in the  study viewed their age as the reason for being denied opportunity for advancement.

The book titled Managing the Millennials offers information on the nine perceived orientations managers have of millennials in the workplace and identifies them. These orientations, be they real or perceived, require managerial attention.

The article offers a chart to help managers identify and deal with perceptions and actual values of millenials. The chart can help mangers reduce pre-judgments and instead lead to building rapport with millennial employees. Here are a few:

Perceived Orientation Millennial Intrinsic Value Required Managerial Competency
Autonomous Work-Life Balance Flexing
Entitled Reward Incenting
Imaginative Self-Expression Cultivating

It is crucial for talent managers to address the values of each millennial employee. Their values ultimately lead to their core competencies. To view the full chart or read the full article, please click here.

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