Age bias impacts L&D decisions – study

by Brett Henebery10 May 2017
Age bias is alive and well in Australian workplaces, new research shows.

According to the survey of 1,352 employers by recruiting experts Hays, more than seven-in-ten employers admit that an employee’s age can be a factor in talent management decisions.

These include development programs, promotional pathways and succession plans.

Below are some of the key findings:
  • 12% admitted that the age of an employee ‘always’ impacts what works for them in talent management terms.
  • 59% said age is ‘sometimes’ a factor.
  • 29% said an employee’s age has no impact on talent management decisions.
Nick Deligiannis, managing director of Hays in Australia & New Zealand, said this bias can work against employees of any age.

“A boss could view an employee as too young, too old or too close to parenting age when making talent management decisions,” Deligiannis said in a statement.

“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.”

Deligiannis said that if an employee wants to progress their career, they should talk about their career goals and the development opportunities available to them with their 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, says Deligiannis.

“By sitting down with an individual employee and talking about their career goals, ambitions and training & 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,” he said.


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