Age bias is alive and well in Australian workplaces, with more than seven in ten employers admitting an employee’s age can be a factor in talent management decisions. These include development programmes, promotional pathways and succession plans.
A survey of 1,352 employers by Hays found 12 per cent admitted that the age of an employee ‘always’ impacts what works for them in talent management terms. Another 59 per cent said age is ‘sometimes’ a factor.
Just 29 per cent said an employee’s age has no impact on talent management decisions.
“This bias can work against employees of any age,” says Nick Deligiannis, managing director of Hays in Australia & New Zealand. “A boss could view an employee as too young, too old or too close to parenting age when making talent management decisions.
“For instance, one manager may unconsciously question an older worker’s energy, innovation and long-term commitment, while another may unconsciously question a younger worker’s stability, capability and maturity.
“If you want to progress your career, our advice is to talk about your career goals and the development opportunities available to you with your manager. If it doesn’t come up in a formal review, request a meeting so you can communicate your ambitions. If your boss is aware of your career plan, they’re less likely to make assumptions based on your age or any other extraneous factor,” he said.
This has positives for a manager as well. “By sitting down with an individual employee and talking about their career goals, ambitions and training and development needs, you remove your assumptions about a person from your talent management decisions. It may also help you identify a bias if you weren’t previously aware of it.”