How to Deal with Age Discrimination

It may seem that we’re living in a more progressive world and discrimination of any kind in the workplace isn’t as prevalent, but that would be wrong. Discrimination is still very much at play in companies, and age discrimination is no different.

Age Discrimination

 

You’d think when you reach a certain age, and you’ve worked hard and have plenty of experience and knowledge, you’d be an asset to your company. But more and more older employees are being replaced with younger ones and even computers.  Age discrimination involves treating an applicant or employee less favorably because of his or her age and is against the law. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) forbids age discrimination against people who are age 40 or older.

According to AARP, Age discrimination in the workplace persists as a serious and pervasive problem.

Age Discrimination Danger Signs

How do you know if you’re being discriminated against? Here are a few signs:

  • Younger employees are offered promotions, educational resources, or special perks over older employees.
  • You have been overlooked for a particular assignment or project, or you’ve been assigned unpleasant or tedious tasks over and over while others are getting the best projects.
  • You are left out of important client or employee meetings or company activities.
  • Employees, including managers, have made jokes about your age or maturity, asked about your retirement plans, or made pointed comments about your age or abilities.
  • You’ve been passed over for raises and promotions that you’ve rightly earned.
  • You’re not entitled to as much time off as younger employees because you don’t have kids at home.

How To Fight Age Discrimination

If you’ve experienced any of these things, age discrimination may be at play in your workplace. Here are a few things you can do to fight it:

 Don’t Assume Fairness

Don’t assume your workplace is always fair and that there are other factors at play for you being overlooked. Look deeper, even if the comments or actions are directed at another employee. Try to see the situation from a neutral perspective or talk to someone outside your company who can be impartial and honest about what’s happening.

Push yourself to do better.

Read, take courses, stay up-to-date on trends in the marketplace, and find a mentor to inspire you. Don’t give your employer any reason to pass you over. If you work hard, have the experience and knowledge to handle something, there should be no question about your ability.

Don’t give them ammunition.

Don’t make jokes about your age, and don’t coast through your job without learning anything new or being willing to advance yourself. If you do this, you encourage age discrimination within your company; you feed their beliefs about older workers. A company doesn’t owe you anything for your years of service. You have to earn your promotions and raises on your merits.

Be Professional

Maintain professionalism at all times. Present yourself as polished, confident, and knowledgeable to your supervisors and your clients. Always put your best foot forward when representing your company.

Keep Records

Keep track of any possible age discriminating actions by keeping notes. If you ever have to take your problem to HR, you’ll need detailed notes of dates, people involved, and the situation.

Stay active and relevant in your industry and workplace so they won’t have any reason to discriminate against you. Dealing with age discrimination can be a challenge, but you can fight back and get what you deserve.

Do You Need Help?

If you need help updating your resume, practicing for an interview, or organizing your job search information during these challenging times, consider reaching out to Rachel Schneider, CPC at Career Find to assist you.

By |2021-06-14T17:34:57-05:00April 29th, 2021|Career Success, Job Stress|Comments Off on How to Deal with Age Discrimination

Zoom Interview and Meeting Etiquette

Have you participated in a Zoom interview or meeting?  I’m sure you have.  In this day and age of working from home and still needing to keep in touch with your coworkers and clients or participating in online job interviews, Zoom has become a necessity of life. Having your coworkers, clients or potential employers see into your personal life through a small camera means that you have to consider what they can see and how much of your personal life you want them to be able to view. 

We have all seen the Zoom footage on Facebook where the person forgot they were on camera and recorded video and sounds of things they probably didn’t want the world to see or hear.  

zoom interview etiquette

Meeting Etiquette on Zoom

Proper Zoom meeting etiquette can help you ensure that you’ll come across as a professional in all of your meetings and interviews.  Here are a few handy tips and tricks to keeping your Zoom communications professional.

1. Use the Video Option

While it’s tempting to turn the camera off so that you’re only heard and not seen, it can be unsettling for the people on the other end of the conversation. If you are going to be speaking, always use the video option when it’s available. In conferences and webinars, you may not need to use the camera if you’re only listening and not participating, but a camera is essential if you’re participating.

2. Dress Appropriately

Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean other people want to see your pajamas. Sweats and pajamas are an option on days that you don’t have Zoom meetings, but if you’re going to be on camera, dress as you would in the office. And don’t forget pants!  I remember the video of the guy who spilled his cup of coffee and had to jump up quickly and only had underwear on.  Comedy for the viewers, but not the way you want to make a good impression.

3. Stage Your Area

Find a place in your home where you can easily participate in a meeting without distractions, then stage the area behind you. Don’t let your camera catch an open bathroom door behind you; hang a curtain or close the door. Make sure the area behind you is clean, organized, and presentable. 

If you don’t have the option of a clean background, try using the Zoom virtual background feature.  Set it up in advance with a photo of a clean office or nicely decorated professional wall and check that the correct background is selected prior to turning on your video.  (Don’t select the moon shot or other neat but unprofessional backgrounds.)

4. Show Your Best Self

Make sure you’re not hiding in the shadows or blinding the other participants with too much light. Try having a lamp nearby instead of harsh overhead lighting. And look into the camera. Lifting your camera up just a little so that you look up at it instead of down will help eliminate a double-chin effect. Place your laptop on top of a couple of books to raise it to a higher level if necessary.

5. Test Your Connection

Before your meetings start, go to zoom.us/test to check your settings and make sure your internet, camera, and microphone are all in good working order.

6. Mute Yourself When Not Talking

If you’re not talking, use the mute option to help eliminate any background noise that may disrupt the meeting. Your coworkers and clients don’t want to hear the dog barking, your husband watching TV, or your neighbor cutting their grass.

7. Don’t Eat

Having a bottle of water or a cup of coffee close by if you need it is fine, but try to avoid eating and only take a sip of your drink when you’re not talking. No one wants to see you eat your lunch on screen.  Some businesses are hosting “Lunch and Learn” Zoom webinars.   If you are participating in a webinar where you are only watching, turn off the video and sound if you are eating.  

8. Stay Focused

Do not check emails or browse Facebook while in the meeting; the other participants will know that you’re not paying attention via video. Stay focused on the meeting until it’s over.  Remember many meetings and interviews on Zoom or other conference platforms are recorded and replayed at a later time. Your every move is recorded, make sure what a viewer will see is appropriate.  

9. The Meeting Host Should Be the Last to Leave

When the meeting host leaves the meeting, it abruptly closes the meeting for anyone that’s left. This is why the meeting host needs to make sure everyone has logged off before closing the meeting. Or at least waits a few seconds to give everyone the opportunity to leave before ending the meeting.

Zoom meetings and interviews will be with us for a long time to come, so be sure to use proper etiquette so that you can maintain your professional image to your coworkers and clients.

Do You Need Career Search Help?

If you need help updating your resume, practicing for an interview, or organizing your job search information during these challenging times, consider reaching out to Rachel Schneider, CPC at Career Find to assist you.

By |2021-06-14T17:35:43-05:00February 4th, 2021|Interview Prep, Job Stress|Comments Off on Zoom Interview and Meeting Etiquette

Is a Toxic Job Adding Too Much Stress?

Toxic workplaces are bad for your mental and physical health.  In a recent survey, an astonishing 53 percent of workers said their place of employment brings no happiness to their lives.  Too many Americans are trapped in toxic jobs. Are you one of those people?  Perhaps it is time to do something about it.

Toxic Job

What Is a Toxic Job or Workplace

toxic workplace can be defined as any job where the work, the atmosphere, the people, or any combination of those things cause serious disruptions in the rest of your life.

The interruptions can include “sleepless nights, feeling constantly vigilant, sweaty palms, and a racing heartbeat.”

A toxic workplace also has negative health impacts that can affect your personal life by damaging everything from your self-esteem to your friendships.

Signs of a Toxic Workplace

Below are some solid indicators of a toxic work environment:

  • Employee Sickness

    Toxic workplaces lead to employee burnout, fatigue, and illness due to high levels of stress that wreak havoc on our bodies. If people are calling in sick or worse, are working sick, that’s a good sign of a toxic work environment.

  • Employees Are Not Using Their Vacation Days

It is estimated that 54 percent of employees only take half of their vacation days for fear they will fall too far behind and a whopping 66 percent do work-related activities when they do use vacation days.   So employees never truly relax.

  • High Turnover

When the work environment has nothing good to offer except dysfunction, poor morale, and sickness, people will start heading for the door to find a better situation. If you notice a high turnover rate in your company or department, take that as a sign of a toxic workplace.

  • Narcissistic Leadership

Your higher-ups demand that you always agree with them, tell them they’re right, and feel they’re above the rules. They expect everyone else to be perfect while they can meet lower standards.

  • Employees Stuck Behind a Desk All Day

The average worker spends 9 hours a day sitting down.  Sitting that much increases the risk of premature death and the worker’s chances of developing diabetes by 25 percent.  Productivity and efficiency could be increased by standing and movement

  • Little to No Enthusiasm

Look around the office. Is anyone happy to be working there? Is anyone smiling? Are conversations positive and upbeat? Is anyone talking at all? A ”no” to these questions equals toxicity.  If employers discourage conversation between employees, that is even more toxic.

  • Lack of Communication or Negative Communication

You and others don’t get the necessary information to do your job. You work hard with no positive feedback and no recognition, and you might even be told to be glad you have a job at all.

  • Cliques, Gossip, and Rumors

Everyone seems to be out for themselves, and there are no genuine friendships among employees. There’s lots of infighting and paranoia as well as gossip and rumors.  Gossip tends to trickle through poor communication channels, and it starts at the top.  Did you know gossip is actually a form of workplace violence?

Signs You are Affected by a Toxic Job

Your body may know before your brain that your job is to blame for your stress symptoms, sending you red alerts that you are not okay.

Muscle Aches

When your job is toxic, it can feel like you’re fighting off a wild tiger at your desk. Under a perceived threat, your brains flood your system with adrenaline and other stress hormones.

Insomnia

Not being able to sleep because your mind is racing or not being able to stay asleep. You wake up in the middle of the night thinking about your to-do list.

A few restless nights is not a huge deal, but if it becomes a pattern, that may be a sign your job stress has become toxic.

Headaches

Your muscles tense up to guard your body against injury. When you see the workplace as a danger zone, it keeps your muscles wound tight, according to the American Psychological Association. Chronic tension in the neck, shoulders, and head can be associated with migraines and tension headaches.

Increased Sickness

If you are catching colds constantly, consider how you are feeling about your job.  Research shows that chronic stress can compromise the immune system, making you more susceptible to illness.

Mental Health Issues

Increased stress can exacerbate existing mental health issues.

Tiredness

This is fatigue, a bone-deep weariness that no nap or weekend catchup seems to cure.

Appetite Changes

Your appetite is closely linked to your brain. Under acute stress, your fight-or-flight response releases adrenaline, telling your body to suppress digestion to focus on saving us from a perceived danger.  When your job is causing long-term emotional distress, you may turn to food for comfort.

Less Interest in Sex

The American Psychological Association notes that when women have to juggle professional stress on top of their ongoing personal and financial obligations, it can reduce sexual desire. For men, this chronic stress can result in lower testosterone production, which in turn leads to lower libido.

Relaxation and time are imperative and many people report not having enough time to have sex.

In addition to the list above, trust your gut if it tells you something is wrong. Once you know what you’re dealing with, it’s time to develop strategies that can help you stay sane and deal with the toxic environment you are working in.

What Can You Do?

  • Start your exit strategy.

Start making the plans to look for a new job.  Since it takes time to find a new job,  begin your search and then take steps to improve the current situation.  This will help you stay positive when things get tough. If you needed to leave yesterday, consider a bridge job that will keep you active while you find something in line with your career.

  • Create lists to keep yourself busy.

A list can help you stay focused on your tasks instead of the toxic atmosphere and gives you a reason to keep going every day.

  • Try to develop friendships.

Even if it is just one person, it is a bright spot in your day.

  • Document everything you do.

Save emails and write down comments and decisions from meetings, phone calls, and every person who interacts with you. If you need to file a complaint, you will need the evidence to back your claim.

  • Do something after work that can help relieve stress.

Go to the gym, do home repairs, or learn a new skill. The key is to make sure you’re living a fulfilling life outside of work to combat the drama of your 9 to 5.

  • Take breaks. 

As you go through the day, take breaks to talk with co-workers, walk around the building, eat a healthy snack, do some exercises at your desk.  Whatever it takes to give your mind an escape for a few minutes.

  • Use your vacation time. 

Find a way to use it.  Even if it means taking one day per week or extended weekends off.  You need time away from your job to relax and rest.   Do something fun when off.  You don’t need to go to an exotic location to get the benefits of a vacation.  Consider reading the book you have had on your nightstand for a while.  Or spending time working in your yard or sleeping in each day.   Whatever makes you feel relaxed and rested.

Knowing the signs of a toxic job or work environment and how to handle it will allow you to take your next step if and when you feel the time is right.

Other Posts of Interest

11 Tips for Work and Life Balance To Avoid Burnout

Rate Your Workplace Happiness

Top 10 Things to Do When Leaving a Job

Do You Need Help?

 If you need help planning an exit strategy and getting ready for the job search so your next job will be a place you truly enjoy working, your Career Coach, Rachel Schneider at Career Find and schedule a consultation.
By |2019-06-15T11:36:47-05:00April 16th, 2019|Job Stress|Comments Off on Is a Toxic Job Adding Too Much Stress?