When it comes to creating an age-friendly work environment, Hong Kong, which calls itself a “world city”, trails far behind many advanced countries.
At a time when employers in the United States, Britain and Japan are rediscovering the value of mature workers amid an aging population trend, Hong Kong employers are found to be highly discriminatory against those past age 50.
This age group is often labeled as slower learners, less motivated and conservative.
One out of three employed persons has experienced some form of age discrimination at work in the last five years, with mature workers being especially vulnerable, according to a report from the Equal Opportunities Commission.
Elderly workers in general get lower pay and stand less chances of getting promoted. They are also more frequently made the redundancy target during company restructuring, the report notes.
Age discrimination often leads to psychological stress and decreased job satisfaction.
Small and medium-sized companies, in particular, are often associated with some of the worst age discrimination practices. It wouldn’t hurt if they learned from the practices of their overseas counterparts.
Last year, Barclays expanded its apprenticeship program to cover candidates over 50.
The bank said it values older workers who have long and deep experience and can better relate to customers seeking a mortgage or auto loan, Money magazine reports.
Before that, the bank already set up a team of tech-savvy older workers to help mature customers with online banking.
Older workers may have their disadvantages, like being less physically fit, but they may also be more reliable, flexible and experienced, which are important traits in the workplace.
Lots of Hongkongers don’t care about age discrimination, probably because many don’t belong to that age group, yet.
But the clock is ticking and our society is aging fast.
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