September 16, 2014
One of the key drivers for bringing a flexible working culture into the workplace is to accommodate the needs of the younger generation of ‘millennial’ workers who are perceived to view the idea of the traditional 9 to 5 as archaic. But this open-mindedness appears to waver when applied to other workers. A recent survey by employment specialists Doyle Clayton has found Generation Y employees have the most negative attitudes towards older employees and part-time and flexible workers; seeing their colleagues’ flexibility as coming at their own expense. The Age Before Beauty? Report warns that there shouldn’t be an assumption that initiatives to support flexible working will be welcomed by staff in their twenties and thirties. And while younger workers tended to be most likely to perceive discrimination at their workplace, they were also the most likely to exhibit negative attitudes towards equality, for example seeing older workers as less valuable because of their age.
The report also reveals that the attitude amongst colleagues of all ages towards flexible workers varies according to the size of the organisation, with micro firms being the most accepting but those working for mid-sized (50-249) the least positive. Around a fifth of workers in these organisations view those who worked from home for two or three days a week as less committed than other employees and a similar proportion perceive colleagues who balance their job with young children the same way.
As the report warns, this is a problem because flexible workers will be treated as less important and a pattern of disengagement could result.
Medium sized and larger businesses were also viewed by workers as being most likely to discriminate, with 10 per cent of employees feeling they had been held back due to their sex (compared to 1.3% in micro businesses and 4.5% in small businesses (10-40 employees)); and in medium-sized and large businesses over 20 per cent of employees reported having witnessed discrimination on grounds of age.
You can download the Age Before Beauty? Report to look at the findings in greater detail, the possible reasons for the findings and what employers can do to address the problem.