Age stereotypes a problem for older employees

7 Nov 2018

Age stereotypes a problem for older employeesOlder employees may be prematurely exiting the workforce because they feel stereotyped on the basis of their age.

A study led by University of Queensland School of Psychology researcher Dr Courtney von Hippel found that older employees who feel stereotyped at work have more negative job attitudes.

“Older employees who feel they are being stereotyped because of their age report lower job satisfaction and engagement, and poorer workplace wellbeing than their younger counterparts” she said.

Using a weekly diary study design over five weeks, 280 employees aged 18 to 66 years were surveyed on everyday experiences of age-based stereotyping in the workplace, and their levels of job satisfaction, job engagement, organisational commitment, workplace wellbeing, and intentions to quit.

“Negative age-related stereotypes exist for both younger and older employees: older employees are often characterised as technologically incompetent and resistant to change, while younger employees are often characterised as unreliable and inexperienced,” Dr von Hippel said.

“However, we found that feeling stereotyped was not problematic for younger employees.

“Even though younger employees experienced age-based stereotyping as often as their older colleagues, only older employees showed the negative job attitudes as a result of being stereotyped.

“It seems that younger employees see being stereotyped as a challenge they need to overcome, while older employees spend more time dwelling over being stereotyped.”

The study is published in Psychology and Aging.

Read the full media release on UQ News.