Middle ageism: when social climate and perceived employability relate to attitudes and intent to hire middle-aged employees

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1 Scopus citations


Purpose: As the global workforce ages, organizations face unprecedented challenges, especially managing effective communication between generations. The phenomenon of middle ageism (i.e. discriminating against middle-aged employees based on their age) has become more prevalent. The authors examined how contextual settings and communication affect attitudes toward middle-aged employees and hiring intentions. Design/methodology/approach: Data were collected from 537 employees from various organizations, via questionnaires. The moderated mediation model was analyzed using Hayes' PROCESS models. Findings: Results showed that attitudes toward middle-aged employees mediated the relationship between social climate of shared codes and language and hiring intentions. Social climate was positively related to attitudes toward their adaptability, but negatively to attitudes toward their ability. Also, decision-makers' own perceived employability moderated the relationship between attitudes toward employees' adaptability and hiring intentions, and the indirect relationship between social climate and hiring intentions. Practical implications: Since age diversity is expected to become one of the most dominant diversity classifications in the very near future, coping with middle ageism constitutes a growing challenge for managers and HR staff. The findings indicate that in order to enhance sustainable employment and prevent discrimination, organizations need not only maintain a supportive climate for older employees, as an affirmative action, but also ensure better communication in terms of sharing codes and language that enhance positive attitudes toward middle-aged colleagues. Originality/value: In an era where diversity and inclusion dominate human resource management decision making, this study contributes to the literature on the underexplored domain of age diversity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-86
Number of pages17
JournalEquality, Diversity and Inclusion
Issue number1
StatePublished - 3 Feb 2023


  • Age discrimination
  • Ageism
  • Attitudes
  • Diversity
  • Intent to hire
  • Middle-aged employees
  • Moderated mediation model
  • Older employees
  • Perceived employability
  • Relational communication
  • Social climate
  • Stereotypes


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