It often seems as though there are two main points creating tension for managers: the need to maximize a company’s efficiency and best practices, and the need to maintain a diverse, inclusive and welcoming office environment.

While for the most part this task isn’t a particularly difficult one, some employers are finding that it may bring its own unique challenges. Specifically, managers who are trying to adjust their positions for the digital age may be inadvertently favoring younger candidates in the process.

Making way for the digital natives
The past five years have been a boom time for millennials and digital natives, who have started filling more of the workforce than ever before. One key characteristic of this demographic is its affinity for technology of all kinds. Whereas decades ago companies had to train new hires on how to use computers, millennials come to their jobs with an ingrained knowledge of computing, the Internet, smartphones and more.

This affinity pairs well with businesses’ growing need to move operations into the digital space. Even non-tech companies need to cultivate a strong Web, social and mobile presence to remain competitive in an expanding market. Not only do these millennials have the know-how when it comes to using this technology, but they’ve also grown up being conditioned to incorporate these devices and services into their daily lives automatically, meaning they tend to be more creative thinkers as well.

How does this impact older employees?
While companies are eager to reap the benefits of padding their workforces with millennials and digital natives, there is some concern over whether that may result in inadvertent discrimination against older applicants.

Specifically, HR professionals take umbrage with the use of the term “digital native” in job postings, implying that it is a natural deterrent that stops older adults from potentially applying. In fact, the Society for Human Resource Management noted that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission suggests against posting job ads looking for “young professionals” or “recent college grads,” as such phrasing is in direct violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. While “digital native” does not have an inherently ageist context, the primary association between millennials and technology has created a de facto equivalence that may detriment older employees down the road.

Refining your job postings is critical for success, especially as the workforce continues to evolve. Working with PEO companies can offer your company access to top-notch HR services without having to pay for an in-house HR department.