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Ageism in the Workplace and How To Handle It

It can be alarming just how quickly ageism can creep into the workplace, and it can have a negative influence on your workforce. 

You went to school to learn how to take care of patients. Therefore, every day that you set foot in your practice, you are probably focused on taking care of your patients. This also means that you might overlook the problems that your employees have. It can be alarming just how quickly ageism can creep into the workplace, and it can have a negative influence on your workforce. Eventually, this will influence your ability to take care of your patients. Therefore, it is important to be aware of ageism in the workplace and understand how you can combat it.

What Is Ageism?

First, it is important to understand what ageism is. This is a specific type of discrimination or prejudice that targets people based on their age. Generally, this is associated with older employees. For example, you may have older employees in your practice who feel like they are discriminated against because of their age. It is true that you need to keep your practice productive, but you also need to put older employees in a position to be successful.

For example, you might need to teach them how to use new technology, or you might need to be a bit more patient as they complete certain tasks. Keep in mind that having older employees in your practice can also be a benefit. They might have an easier time relating to certain patients, and they can provide you with a perspective that you might not otherwise have thought of.

What Does Ageism Look Like?

There are different ways that ageism could show up in your practice. Some of the most common signs include:

• Younger employees might be given chances to take advantage of continuing education opportunities, but these same opportunities might not be offered to older employees.

• Younger employees might automatically be given more challenging assignments, and older employees might be passed over for them.

• Younger employees might be invited to a company outing, party, or event, and older employees might be overlooked.

• It might be assumed that older employees do not need to take as much time off from work because they do not have young children at home.

• Everyone, ranging from other employees to patients, could make disparaging comments about how old an employee is.

• Older employees might also be passed over for raises and promotions even when they are due for one.

Of course, every employee needs to be handled differently. There might be other, legitimate reasons why some of these situations above might apply, but if these blanket statements take place in an office setting, including a medical practice, they could be signs of ageism.


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How Can You Combat Ageism?

Because this is becoming a bigger and bigger issue, it is important for employers, including practice owners and managers, to combat ageism in the workplace. Some of the most important tips to keep in mind include:

Offer Training To Everyone

You need to offer training to everyone. Training should focus on preventing all forms of discrimination in the workplace, including ageism, but these training classes need to be offered to older employees as well. Furthermore, if there are conferences, conventions, and continuing education opportunities coming up, make sure everyone has an opportunity to sign up for them, and do not assume that anyone would want to miss out on them.

Avoid Stereotyping

You also need to make sure that you avoid stereotyping. The most common form of stereotyping in the workplace is assuming that older employees either cannot or do not want to use new forms of technology. Instead, you need to avoid stereotyping and make sure you give older employees an opportunity to use new technology. Even if they cannot use it immediately, they might be interested in learning how.

Ask Questions

Finally, you must make sure that you asked plenty of questions. You need to create a safe space where all of your employees will feel comfortable sharing questions and concerns about the workplace, including possible forms of discrimination. If you open lines of communication not only with your employees but also among your employees, you can identify and root out ageism before it has a chance to take hold.

How HR for Health Can Help

Ready to get started with HR for Health? Contact us today to set up a fifteen-minute consultation and learn more about how HR for Health can help your practice grow and protect you from various HR challenges - including bullying. 

Schedule an HR Consultation