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Use of ‘generations’ to reinforce age stereotypes

by on February 25, 2014

Here’s an interesting item on the Employee Benefits website relating to the impact of an ageing workforce and the trend towards longer working lives. Whilst its focus is on the issue of employee benefits, it also identifies these key take-home points for the time-pressed reader:

– Older workers may choose to work because they enjoy their job, not because they can’t afford to retire.
– An ageing workforce requires employers to rethink the make-up of their benefits.
– Workforce planning should be about employees’ skill sets, not their age.

These headlines avoid some of the usual ‘age / work’ stereotypes. However, the article features a case study from the University of Lincoln which includes a quote from the university’s Reward and Benefits Manager. This rather reinforces some of these age stereotypes that we see from time to time and is interesting (to us, at least!) because of the reference to ‘generations’ in the workplace. Describing the university’s intern programme launched two years ago, the Reward and Benefits Manager is quoted as saying: “We have made room for the skillset that generations Y and Z bring, very much around technology and different ways of thinking, by running the programme alongside the core workforce.”

It looks like the particular stereotype around younger workers and technology is holding up and the use of ‘generations’ in its maintenance is worth noting.

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