Knowledge Sharing in the Workplace as a Way to Couteract Ageism

By: Martine Lagacé   Najat Firzly   Lise Van De Beeck  

The aging workforce in many industrialized countries underlies important challenges, namely current and future labor shortages. Such challenges can be partly addressed by sustained efforts aimed at hiring younger workers, retaining older workers, and, most importantly, countering ageism. Age-based stereotypes and discrimination are indeed major barriers of workers' job satisfaction and retention. Results of studies suggest that a positive intergenerational workplace climate and knowledge sharing practices between young and older workers are efficient ways of reducing ageism toward older workers as well as increasing job satisfaction. However, such studies mainly focused on older workers. Relying on Intergroup Contact Theory, the current study postulates that a positive perception of workplace intergenerational climate as well as knowledge sharing practices increase younger workers’ awareness of ageist behaviors that target older peers. In turn, such awareness has a negative effect on young workers’ level of job satisfaction. In total, 613 Canadian participants filled an online questionnaire measuring concepts under study. Hypotheses are partially confirmed such that only knowledge sharing practices increase young workers’ awareness of ageist behaviors; however, a positive intergenerational climate does not trigger a similar effect. On the other hand, both knowledge sharing practices and the perception of a positive intergenerational climate have a direct and positive impact on younger workers’ level of job satisfaction. Findings are discussed in light of the Intergroup Contact Theory, stressing the importance of multi-age workgroups and knowledge sharing practices as ways to decrease ageist beliefs and attitudes.

Ageism, Younger/Older Workers, Older Intergroup Contact, Knowledge Sharing Practices
Social and Cultural Perspectives on Aging
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Dr. Martine Lagacé

Full Professor, Communication, University of Ottawa

Martine Lagacé is an assistant professor at the Department of Communication, University of Ottawa in Canada. Dr. Lagacé, who holds a Ph.D. in social psychology, does research on intergenerational communication in the workplace, stereotypes based on age, identity and intergroup relations. She has been teaching research methods courses for the last several years at the Department. Dr. Lagacé also has co-written a book in French on Research Methods in Communication published by Gaëtan Morin in 2006. She has published in French and English in several academic journals as « les Cahiers internationaux de psychologie sociale » and « The International Journal of Aging & Human Development». She is currently a member of the Editing Board for the Canadian academic journal «Vie et vieillissement». Professor Lagacé also has extensive professional expertise in communication, having worked for several years as a radio and television journalist for CBC Radio-Canada and as a spokesperson at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Canada.

Najat Firzly

University of Ottawa

Najat Firzly is a PhD candidate at the School of Psychology (clinical program). She is currently working on psychosocial dimensions of aging, precisely addressing how ageism is manifested among younger and older individuals as well as its impact.

Lise Van De Beeck

PhD Candidate, University of Ottawa, Canada