Forthcoming discrimination legislation aimed at eradicating age bias in the workplace will force employers to confront age stereotypes.
Despite the fact that most attention has been focused on older employees, employers must be aware that this legislation applies to staff members of all ages, not just workers over 50.
To successfully accommodate employees of all different ages, it is vital for employers to understand that each age group will have distinguishing traits, and will be dri-ven by forces specific to their stage in life and their position on the career ladder.
These attributes were underlined in a report published by the Employers Forum on Age (EFA) earlier this year. Age at Work looked at the views of 1,636 employees of all ages and asked them to share their ex-pectations, frustrations, hopes and fears.
One of the more revealing findings is that 20-somethings feel that, due to their age, they are denied interesting and challenging roles. Because of this, many jump from job to job.
There is also an overwhelming feeling among younger workers that they are not provided with a clear career path to follow, and so have less incentive to remain with one employer. In fact, 70% of respondents in their 20s believe a career path is important, yet only 25% say they know where they are heading.
"Many employers do not invest adequately in younger workers," says EFA's director Sam Mercer. "Employers need to manage career expectations and inform workers what they can expect at different points in their careers."
This high level of ambition among young worker comes as no surprise to Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) HR director, Angela O'Connor. She says that for people taking their first steps into the job market, knowing what employers can offer in terms of a career path is a major concern. "In most cases, that is more important than money," she says.
For workers in their 30s, achieving an agreeable work-life balance becomes a priority. This is because, although people of this age are at the peak of their career, they are also under the most pressure at work and are often dealing with the strains of raising a young family.
According to the report, almost half of 30-somethings are unhappy with their work-life balance. Mercer feels more companies should be introducing flexible working to tackle this issue. "HR should be advising line managers on how to manage employees working flexibly," she says.