I‘ve just celebrated a significant birthday, one that puts me into a different age bracket to my colleagues. To be honest, as a child of the 70’s, I’m already set apart with my cultural references, writing everything down in a notebook and of course, my taste in music. To put it bluntly, I’m the oldest person at Platypus. But here’s the thing, I’ve never been made to feel that my age is an issue. But, I know that this isn’t always the case when HR and recruiters are looking to fill open positions. Ageism is real, ask any Boomer or Gen X professional, and the majority will admit to having been denied a role based solely on their age.

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been rejected for a job because I was “too experienced.” What is too experienced? When you’re told this, it makes you want to ask the question “why do you think I am applying for this role?” I know exactly why I am applying and what I am capable of, but unfortunately my experience has often been seen as a negative asset. That’s until I applied for Platypus. I am not going to gush about how my experience was welcomed, in fact, seen as a positive, but they created a role for me that I’d only dreamed about. 

And here’s the thing about working for a start-up, they’re willing to take chances on people, because they’re dynamic and innovative. There’s this understanding that each person will bring different talents to the table. 

And so, this is where I find myself writing about something that hasn’t only affected my career in the latter years, but so many others around the world, either stopping career changes or progression in its tracks. 

Defining the different generations

The current workforce is currently made up of five different generations, all with unique traits and differences. 

How to embrace age diversity in the current landscape

Millennials make up 35% of the working population and will continue to do so, well into 2030. Companies have gone out of their way to deliver benefits, tech and working conditions aimed at this generation. But with Gen Z starting to enter the workforce, a fresh approach needs to be considered, as what worked for one generation won’t necessarily work for another. 


Focusing solely on a single generation when it comes to managing culture, means that the benefits and positive influence from other generations are being missed. 

Gen X are seen as independent, self-sufficient and resourceful, whilst Millennials are keen on team-work, competitiveness and open-minded. By mixing these two distinct workforces, the dynamic and creative problem solving could be a magnificent thing to witness. Whereas, Gen Z are all about the digitalization of the workplace,  creating digital content and finding solutions to problems online, whilst taking a creative and individualistic approach to tasks. Co-mentoring across the generations should be something that’s encouraged as a driver for new ideas and development of innovation. Establishing a mentoring program will also help with the essential transfer of knowledge and skills.

The role of HR bridging the gap

If ageism is to be tackled, then HR practices need to be aimed at attracting a mixed-age workforce to fill the gaps in the talent pool.  This will bring a more diverse workforce that shares its skills and knowledge, creating better collaboration which will in turn help to improve retention. 

Companies that engage in a multigenerational workforce have found that their productivity also increases. The OECD estimates that age-diverse workforces will create a more efficient, productive and profitable economy and raise GDP per capita by almost 19% in the next three decades. This is achievable through knowledge sharing, skills matching and retention of older workers which provides stability and continuity.

Although bias may operate at an unconscious level, HR bias in recruiting older generations needs to be identified and addressed. Rectifying this will help a company’s talent pipeline to become more inclusive by nature. When filling a vacant position, companies should first look internally at all employees, regardless of age, race, gender or any factors that differentiate them. There might be an uncut diamond hiding in the team that’s desperate to shine! Don’t forget that engagement, loyalty and motivation are intrinsically linked to how transparent management is in considering applicants for job roles, whether that be internally or externally.

Ways to challenge Ageism

Having a fully inclusive and healthy culture is essential if companies are to fight the battle against ageism and attract talent. Values change as each person journeys through life. What mattered to me in my twenties is not necessarily the same now I am in my fifties. So, it’s paramount that companies stay ahead of the competition in ascertaining what matters to all of their employees. Organization’s must understand how to use the unique skill set of their team members, regardless of age.