Mature-age worker engagement

Mature-age worker engagement


Here’s some great news: People are living longer and healthier lives! But we’re likely to spend a big chunk of that extra time at WORK. In most developed countries, people of “working age” contribute funds that support the people who have retired. But as the population ages, there are fewer and fewer working age people to support each retiree One strategy for solving this problem is to keep older people working longer… so many countries increase the age at which people can access retirement funding from 60 to 65 or even 70… These policy changes solve one problem, but they create another one. We can keep people working longer, but will they stay motivated and engaged in their work? Our research appears in an article published in the Academy of Management Journal We studied more than 600 people aged 45 and older, working in three Australian cities, in a wide range of jobs, in many different kinds of organisations We found that some of these mature-age workers experienced STEREOTYPE THREAT. They were very conscious of their age… they were afraid that managers and coworkers might have negative stereotypes about their age group… and they worried that their own behavior might accidentally confirm those stereotypes They experienced the MOST stereotype threat in three situations: when they reported to young managers, when they were surrounded by young coworkers, and when they worked in manual occupations. People who experience stereotype threat feel extra pressure to perform well making work more stressful and a lot less fun eventually they disengage and feel less involved and enthusiastic about their work that’s bad for a mature-age worker but it’s bad for organisations too. Disengaged workers don’t perform to their full capability and can cost an organisation 30% of their salary in lost productivity. But there’s a solution! Our research found that two types of management practices reduce stereotype threat and increase engagement among mature-age workers. The first type are high performance practices that focus on training employees, rewarding them for good performance, and encouraging them to participate in organisational decisions. These practices apply to any worker, young or old. The second type focus specifically on mature-age workers: things like updating their skills, redesigning jobs to accommodate their physical needs, giving them opportunities to mentor other people, or allowing them to ease into retirement. These age-specific practices send a clear signal to mature-age workers that the organisation cares about them and their age-specific needs. The two types of practices have independent effects, so a mature-age worker is going to be MOST engaged when their organisation offers BOTH. Unfortunately we found that organisations were more likely to offer the high performance practices; they rarely offered the practices that focus directly on mature-age workers Do you want the mature-age workers in your organisation to be engaged and productive? Adopting the right management practices may be the key to ensuring that mature-age workers contribute to the organisation long past the traditional retirement age

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