Young bachelors catch the eye of employers, while parents and the mature-aged lose out

Young men with no family commitments are faring best in the eyes of employers, according to a new study by workforce management solutions company Kronos.

The report found that employers viewed the “ideal worker” to hire as young, male and unattached: 38% of employers favoured hiring male employees; while 19% preferred to hire females; and 57% did not have a preference of gender.

The closed-question survey also found that 72% of respondents expected that as employees reach parenthood, they are more likely to transition to part-time working hours. It also found that 53% thought mature-aged workers leading up to retirement were also likely to want flexible conditions.

Employees without children were preferred by 40% of business decision-makers, while 18% found parents more desirable to hire.

Kronos APAC vice president Peter Harte told SmartCompany this morning that the figures, taken from 500 business decision-makers and 2000 employees in Australia, raised concerns about workplace diversity.

He says the results show the potential for “myopic organisations”, and also the risk of missing out on talent and expertise gained from different life experiences.

Harte says employees were concerned about offering part-time conditions to cater for people with families, preferring to hire those that “fit the mould of least disruption”.

“About half of business (49%) thought that having flexible working practices was too disruptive and costly to bring into the work environment,” he says.

The report found that 76% of employers would like their staff to be willing to work extra hours, 57% preferred their employees to have had unbroken employment records, and 73% look for ambition in their employees.

Joshua Price, general manager of Symmetra – which delivers unconscious bias programs to businesses – says the findings, particularly in relation to hiring mature-aged employees, were consistent with what he has seen in various businesses.

“There is a perception that ‘baby boomers’ are less innovative and less able to change and grow,” he says.

“The young, while they haven’t yet developed the leadership skills, are perceived as more capable of learning and developing. There is a common perception with older groups that they are viewed as having ‘peaked’,” Price says.

When it comes to hiring parents, Price says the bias is generally not explicit, but usually concerns a perception of commitment levels and time constraints due to split responsibilities.

Perspectives Coaching founder Pollyanna Lenkic told SmartCompany that while having team diversity can potentially cause conflict due to different cultures, generations and experiences, studies show team diversity produces the best results for the bottom line.


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