Prolonged employment of older workers: determinants of managers' decisions regarding hiring, retention and training

K. Karpinska

Research output: PhD ThesisPhD thesis

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Prolonged and productive employment of older workers is a necessary condition to maintain welfare and social security systems threatened by ageing populations. Despite this importance, the labour market position of older workers is much worse than that of workers in primal age. Yet not much is known about the factors that contribute to those different outcomes for older workers. The general aim of this dissertation was to gain more understanding of the dynamics in the labour market participation of older workers around retirement age in the Netherlands. In particular, the current study has evaluated which individual characteristics of older workers, organisations and managers affect managers’ decisions to hire older workers, offer them training opportunities and retain them in organisations. This study also assessed empirically the potential role of managers’ attitudes (in terms of stereotypical views of older workers’ productivity and their age norms with respect to the appropriate timing of exit from the labour force) on their behaviour regarding hiring, training and retention of older workers. To evaluate managers’ decisions and the impact of attitudes on those decisions, vignette studies and a survey were developed. A vignette is a short description of a situation or a person. By presenting respondents concrete and detailed descriptions of a person’s situation, this approach offers the possibility to study how context and different conditions affect people’s judgments. The data was collected in two stages: first a survey was administered to managers, posing questions about the characteristics of respondents, their age norms and stereotypes. One month later the same managers were approached again to complete a vignette study. The results presented in four empirical chapters indicate that managers are not very keen on hiring, retaining of training of older workers and that their decisions involved in complex considerations are affected by various factors. All four studies have stressed the importance of older workers’ employability. Yet, employability is not the only condition of prolonged employment. At the same time, the context of organisations is also critical for employers’ willingness to hire, retain or train these workers. Although individual characteristics of older workers and organisational forces contribute importantly to older workers’ chances of being hired, being offered training opportunities and retention, employers are key players in defining the opportunities for retirement and for working longer. The studies show that as managers are not very positive towards extending employment of older workers, they may form barriers towards their employment. This dissertation showed that when promoting prolonged and effective employment of older workers it is important not only to take into account workers and their qualifications and abilities but also to actively promote organisational structures and implement policies to reduce managers’ prejudices. Keywords: older workers; age norms; stereotype; hiring; retention; training; vignette studies
Original languageUndefined
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Utrecht University
  • Henkens, C.J.I.M. (Kène), Promotor
  • Schippers, J., Promotor, External person
Award date22 Mar 2013
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
Print ISBNs978-90-6984-666-8
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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