Workplace Diversity Essay

1244 words - 5 pages

Workplace Diversity: Challenges and Opportunities
Jane A. Hannon
Southern New Hampshire University

Workplace Diversity: Challenges and Opportunities
The fastest growing segment of the workforce in the United States is adults over 55 years of age (Robbins & Judge, 2015). Given advancements in medical treatments, diagnosis, and wellness initiatives; a forecast of continued sluggish economic growth; and the changing landscape of employer-sponsored benefit programs, the increase of workers in this age group does not show signs of slowing down. An aging workforce presents challenges and opportunities for organizations. While some of these challenges are unique to the demographic, many ...view middle of the document...

Challenges for Managers
Along with the physical space, organizations need to have policies to address and support workers of different ages and experience. Employees over 55 years of age have a different set of personal, non-work related issues than younger employees. An aging workforce means that there will be a wider range of ages and experience within organizations and that the demands and stressors on employee lives outside of work will also be more varied. According to Waldrum and Niemira, managers need to be aware of their own biases and perceptions when structuring diversity programs and managing workers of different generations (1997). The need for flexibility to care for a sick child or an aging parent is one such example. Clearly articulated policies and the equitable administration of them will help alleviate any generational tensions in the workplace.
Workplace Policies and Age Discrimination
In addition to adhering to internal policies, organizations must act within a legal framework. The responsibility of compliance with legal guidelines and laws regarding age discrimination within the workplace rests solely with management. Most organizations recognize that position descriptions, written policies, and an individual or department dedicated to human resource management are simply good practice. Thus the risk of legal action by employees can be lessened through direct communication, clarity of expectations, consistent administration of policies, and employee training at all levels (Robbins & Judge, 2015). Each of these benefit not only employees over 55 years of age but also strengthens the organization’s effectiveness when navigating surface-level diversity. Successful managers deal with substantive issues as they arise in a clear, consistent manner.
Challenges of a Diverse Workforce
One of the challenges organizations face when building a diverse workforce is attracting individuals who hold and reflect the values of the organization. Robbins and Judge define “person-organization fit” as the willingness of people to be attracted to and stay with workplaces that are in synch with their personalities and the values they hold (2015). It follows that organizations that overtly value diversity will attract like-minded individuals subsequently helping to maintain that culture and lessen the risk of employee turnover and lower the cost associated with it. Diversity in Action, a book of small and large group activities designed to support diversity, has as its goal to create an environment where “opinions are respected, ideas are listened to, experiences are accepted, and individuality is valued” (Chappelle & Bigman, 1998). Investing the time and money to engage employees in these activities will help create a diverse workplace.
Overcoming Diversity Challenges
Most educational institutions are dedicated to expanding and promoting diversity. One of the biggest challenges facing independent schools is attracting,...

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