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This book focuses on the aging workforce from the employment relationship perspective. This innovative book specifically focuses on how organizations can ensure their aging workers remain motivated, productive and healthy. In 15 chapters, several experts on this topic describe how organizations through effective human resource management can ensure that workers are able to continue working at higher age. In addition, this book discusses the role older workers themselves play in continuing work at higher age. To do this, the authors integrate research from different areas, such as literature on leadership, psychological contracts and diversity with literature on the aging workforce. Through this integration this book provides innovative ways for organizations and workers to maintain productivity, motivation and health. Aging Workers and the Employee-Employer Relationship summarizes the latest research on how employment relationships change with age and its implications for supporting the well-being, motivation and productivity of older workers. It identifies ways to improve how both companies and workers solve the problems they face. These include better designed employment practices and more adaptive job content and developmental opportunities for aging workers along with activities aging workers can engage to enhance their own job crafting, learning and employability.



Chapter 1. Introduction to Aging Workers and the Employee-Employer Relationship

Aging workers challenge existing conventions regarding the employee-employer relationship. The demographic changes many countries face, particularly in the developed world, are translating into changes for both employees and their employers. These new circumstances demand a fresh perspective on appropriate leadership and behaviors to manage employees, the human resource practices used to motivate and retain talent, and the expectations employees and employers have of each other. This opening essay provides an overview of these demographic changes and their impact on employees and organizations along with an introduction of our book’s chapters.
P. Matthijs Bal, Dorien T. A. M. Kooij, Denise M. Rousseau

The Role of Context and the Organization


Chapter 2. Older Workers, Stereotypes, and Discrimination in the Context of the Employment Relationship

Age biases could pose challenges to developing and maintaining a successful employment relationship. This chapter reviews theoretical and empirical work on age bias in the workplace (including stereotypes, affect, and discrimination) and utilizes examples of two very different older workers at one hypothetical organization to demonstrate the various ways age biases could impact the employment relationship over time, and in turn how the employment relationship might create conditions that create or hinder age biases. Ideas for future research directly investigating the interplay of age bias and the employment relationship are suggested. An essential message woven throughout the chapter is that we must remember that not all older employees are alike.
Lisa M. Finkelstein

Chapter 3. Age Diversity and Age Climate in the Workplace

Raising levels of age diversity are a corporate reality in most organizations today. Unfortunately, the effects of age diversity on various organizational outcomes including its effect on the employment relationship are not yet fully understood. This chapter strives to provide a theoretical and empirical synopsis of relevant literature in this field. First, various theoretical frameworks are discussed to explain both positive and negative effects of age diversity. These include cognitive resource models of variation as well as processes related to similarity-attraction, social identity, career timetables and prototype matching, as well as age-based faultlines. Second, a structured review is conducted which summarizes empirical findings on the effects of age diversity at different organization levels and with regard to various outcomes including performance, innovation, communication, discrimination, conflict, and turnover. Third, potential moderators of the age diversity-outcome relationship are discussed which include demographic and task characteristics, team processes, leadership behavior, age stereotypes, HR and diversity management practices, as well as diversity mindsets and age-diversity climate. The chapter concludes with an outline for future research in this important area of organizational behavior.
Stephan A. Boehm, Florian Kunze

Chapter 4. Strategic HRM for Older Workers

Organizations face the challenge of how to make sure that their aging workers remain motivated, productive and healthy contributors to organizational performance. Building on Strategic HRM, we offer two insights. First, following the Resource Based View and conservation model, older workers can be a source of sustained competitive advantage provided that they are adequately managed, and so it might be wise to tailor HR practices to the needs of older workers. Second, the SHRM literature demonstrates that employee attitudes and behaviors are crucial for organizational performance. However, since motives change with age, the utility and thus the influence of HR practices on employee attitudes and behaviors might also change with age. Therefore, in this chapter, we first review the literature on the effects of HR practices designed specifically for older workers. We then review theoretical arguments on the role of age and age-related factors in relations between universally applied HR practices and employee performance, motivation, and health. Finally, we will highlight key knowledge gaps in the area and identify important lines for future research that can contribute to a better understanding of how organizations can manage older workers’ motivation, health and performance.
Dorien T. A. M. Kooij, Karina van de Voorde

Chapter 5. The Role of Line Managers in Motivation of Older Workers

This chapter sets out to answer the question as to what extent and how line managers support older workers at work and to what extent their support influences the motivation and productivity of older workers. The role of line managers in the implementation of Human Resource (HR) policies has grown over the years. This role is particularly important in the case of older workers as their situations differ greatly and line managers can tailor HR policies to their individual preferences. The support which line managers provide to older workers has a positive effect on their motivation to continue in work and on their productivity. An important issue is whether line managers are able and willing to support older workers. An overview of relevant factors which impact on line manager’s activities shows that negative stereotypes about older workers have become less salient in recent years. Meanwhile, research shows that the opportunities and support for line managers are important determinants of how they provide actual support for older workers. The implications of these findings are discussed in the concluding section of this chapter.
Eva Knies, Peter Leisink, Jo Thijssen

Chapter 6. A Lifespan Perspective on Leadership

In this chapter, we present a lifespan model of leadership that outlines how leader and follower age as well as age-related changes in leader traits and characteristics, leader behaviors, and follower attribution and identification processes may influence leadership effectiveness. First, we describe how leader traits and characteristics change with age and how these developmental changes may impact on leader behaviors and, subsequently, leadership effectiveness. Specifically, we discuss age-related changes in leaders’ task competence, interpersonal attributes, and motivation to lead. We particularly focus on how generativity – a set of interconnected motives pertaining to establishing and guiding future generations – may emerge as an important concern among older leaders. Second, we review theoretical approaches that help explain how and why leader age and age-related traits and characteristics, follower age, as well as leader-follower age differences may influence follower attribution and identification processes. Third, we outline a number of boundary conditions of the effects proposed by our lifespan model of leadership, including leader-follower relationship duration, situational characteristics, as well as the cultural, social, and historical context. We conclude the chapter by discussing our model’s implications for future research and organizational practice.
Hannes Zacher, Michael Clark, Ellen C. Anderson, Oluremi B. Ayoko

The Role of the Older Worker


Chapter 7. The Psychological Contracts of Older Employees

Many organizations are currently facing an aging workforce and have therefore called for researchers to examine how older employees can be optimally motivated and retained. To this end, we believe it is essential to understand what older employees expect from their organization. We therefore introduce the psychological contract—describing the mutual obligations between employee and employer—and review the literature on older employees’ psychological contracts. In addition, we perform a meta-analysis to shed additional light on the type of obligations that older employees perceive in their psychological contract. We conclude that future studies should focus on unraveling the mechanisms—such as future time perspective and changing goals and values—that create differences between older and younger employees in the content of and the reactions to the psychological contract. Practitioners are advised to monitor changes in these underlying mechanisms as employees grow older, and to implement age-conscious Human Resource policies accordingly in order to manage older employees’ psychological contracts.
Tim Vantilborgh, Nicky Dries, Ans de Vos, P. Matthijs Bal

Chapter 8. Idiosyncratic Deals for Older Workers: Increased Heterogeneity Among Older Workers Enhance the Need for I-Deals

This chapter discusses how idiosyncratic deals (I-deals) can be negotiated by older workers and their organizations to increase the motivation and performance of older workers. Because work-related preferences of older workers tend to be more heterogeneous than those of younger workers, I-deals are in particular suited to the needs and preference of older workers. More specifically flexibility and development I-deals can help older workers stay motivated and productive throughout their careers. I-deals are defined as the idiosyncratic agreements employees negotiate with their employer about their work arrangements. I-deals benefit both employee and organization, such that the employee obtains a better work-life balance, and is able to develop, while the organization benefits from higher productivity and retention of valuable employees. I-deals have been shown to be crucial in motivating employees to work beyond their retirement age. The chapter concludes with boundary conditions for the effects of I-deals on motivation, productivity and health, and suggestions for future research.
P. Matthijs Bal, Paul G. W. Jansen

Chapter 9. Successful Aging at Work: The Role of Job Crafting

Research on how to manage and retain older workers is expanding. In this literature, older workers are often viewed as passive recipients or products of their work environment. However, findings in the lifespan literature indicate that people are not passive responders to the aging process, but rather frequently exercise agency in dealing with the biological, psychological, and social changes that occur across the lifespan. In addition, multiple studies demonstrated that employees also exercise agency at work and behave proactively. Job crafting is a specific form of proactive work behavior defined as the self-initiated changes individuals make in the task or relational boundaries of their work. Since job crafting is aimed at improving or restoring person-job fit, it offers older workers a means to continuously adjust their job to intrapersonal changes that are part of the aging process, thereby increasing their ability and motivation to continue working. In this chapter, we apply the concept of job crafting to older worker adjustment. Building upon lifespan theories and the literature on aging at work, we explain why job crafting is important for successful aging at work and we propose specific activities and forms of job crafting relevant for older workers.
Dorien T. A. M. Kooij, Maria Tims, Ruth Kanfer

Chapter 10. Aging Workers’ Learning and Employability

In today’s time of demographic change and rapid innovation, age and employability as well as the role of learning and development are high on the agenda of policy makers and human resource managers. Empirical studies, however, do not provide consistent evidence for the relation between age and employability and between age and work-related formal and informal learning. While many studies find negative relationships, some other studies present positive or insignificant effects. The inconsistent results may hint at conceptual weaknesses of chronological age as a measure, which are often ignored. One such weakness is the difficulty to disentangle age effects from cohort and period effects. Moreover, since people become more heterogeneous the older they get, the less suitable age is as predictor. Therefore, we state that chronological age in itself may not be the most important factor in predicting work-related learning and employability. Alternative significant predictors might be work centrality, learning self-efficacy and future time perspective. In addition, we identify age-related individual and organizational obstacles for work-related learning and employability. Two of the most prominent individual obstacles are a decline in motivation to learn and less capability to learn. Organizational barriers are due to negative stereotypes about aging workers and a lack of supportive learning climate for older workers. Therefore, research on other individual and organizational factors might provide more satisfying answers and contribute to new insights for the management of an increasingly older workforce.
Isabel Raemdonck, Simon Beausaert, Dominik Fröhlich, Nané Kochoian, Caroline Meurant

Working Beyond Retirement


Chapter 11. Intentions to Continue Working and Its Predictors

What we know about managing and retaining older workers is quite limited. Attention is needed regarding the retention of older workers due to demographic shifts and their implications for organizational needs. Simply put, organizations need to retain older workers. Both because they want to keep the older workers’ knowledge “on board” and depend on older workers as the availability of younger workers declines. The chapter addresses the concept of intention to continue working among older workers. How can it be defined? How is it different or related to concepts such as work motivation, commitment and intention to retire early? We review the findings regarding the personal, organizational and context factors that predict it. We need to understand the influences on the employees’ intentions to continue working. In doing so, the HR practices to stimulate older employees to stay at work longer can be better identified. We discuss Human Resource Management practices that can influence employee intentions to continue working.
René Schalk, Donatienne Desmette

Chapter 12. Bridge Employment: Conceptualizations and New Directions for Future Research

Today, retirement is not a one-time permanent exit from employment anymore. A majority of older adults retire gradually by engaging in bridge employment which is the labor force participation status in-between career employment and complete work withdrawal. This chapter focuses on the theoretical conceptualizations of bridge employment from different perspectives (i.e., decision making, career development, adjustment process, and Human Resource Management). It also introduces a range of criteria to distinguish different forms of bridge employment (i.e., working field, organization/employer, time, and motive). We argue that bridge employment can be better studied and understood based on a careful specification of its conceptual meanings and operationalization forms. Finally, this chapter discusses future directions of research on bridge employment.
Yujie Zhan, Mo Wang

Chapter 13. Adjustment Processes in Bridge Employment: Where We Are and Where We Need To Go

While a relatively large literature outlines adjustment processes for retirees in general, very little empirical and theoretical attention has focused on the psychological adjustment process for bridge employees. That is to say, few studies have attempted to understand the psychological mechanisms that predict adjustment to bridge employment, and there is scant theory to direct such efforts. The present chapter outlines and defines adjustment for bridge employees from life-course, life-span developmental, and self-regulation perspectives. The role of both intrapersonal and external resources and demands on the bridge employment adjustment process are discussed. A model of adjustment to bridge employment is offered that incorporates the idea of contextual resources-demands fit, and suggests a process by which the application of intrapersonal resources is enhanced via an agentic self-efficacy cycle. Finally, future directions for research and are discussed.
Cort W. Rudolph, Annet H. De Lange, Beatrice Van der Heijden

Chapter 14. Aging Entrepreneurs and Volunteers: Transition in Late Career

Entrepreneurship and volunteering seem very dissimilar activities – one involves starting a business and the other giving freely of your time to benefit others. Yet both these forms of non-traditional employment can feature in late career transition as ways of continuing involvement in work. This chapter reviews theory and research on older people, entrepreneurship and volunteering including evidence on the characteristics and motivations of those who choose these two forms of activity, as well as consideration of the way policy, economic and institutional contexts constrain and condition these choices. Entrepreneurship is often associated with youth, yet those over 50 more frequently start new businesses, and appear to be more successful at surviving the critical first three years of operation than their younger counterparts. However, these new businesses often take the form of self-employment as a way out of unemployment, rather than growth-oriented enterprises that can provide jobs for others. As such, there is debate about the extent to which such ‘wage substitution’ enterprises should be supported by governments. Conversely, volunteering has become a normative role for older people: it is seen as a suitable way for them to use their skills and continue productive engagement with society. Yet there is evidence to suggest that retirement from full-time paid work does not lead to a substantial increase in volunteering. Theory and research exploring the relationship between paid work, volunteering and retirement is discussed as well as ways voluntary organizations could better attract and retain older volunteers.
Susan Ainsworth

Chapter 15. Conclusion and Future Research

This chapter highlights key insights into the dynamics of older workers and the opportunities available to redesign both their work experiences and the practices of contemporary organizations to the benefit of both. It identifies key evidence-based principles to optimize the employee-employer relationship of aging workers to maintain their health, motivation and productivity. It lays out the most prominent future research avenues, as well as practical implications.
Dorien T. A. M. Kooij, Denise M. Rousseau, P. Matthijs Bal
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