Desire to Retire: Increasing Age Diversity in the Workplace
As a result of demographic changes in many industrialized countries, organizations are experiencing increased age diversity (Hertel, Van der Heijden, de Lange, & Deller, 2013a). In the US, this is due to the aging baby boom generation (Schram, 2006), and organizations are faced with adjusting to the changing demographic. By contrast, in Europe and China the labor force is shrinking (Cheung & Wu, 2013; Schermuly, Deller, & Busch, 2014), thus requiring organizations to find ways to recruit and retain older workers. In this paper, I will explore increasing age diversity in the workplace as it relates to employment relations, age ...view middle of the document...
, 2013). They also experience declining motivation (Hertel et al., 2013a), lower affective organizational commitment and decreased psychological empowerment (Schermuly et al., 2013). If older workers feel they need to continuously battle biased perceptions concerning their employability and career success (Van der Heijden, de Lange, Demerouti, & Van der Heijde, 2009), the result will have a negative impact on work-related attitudes, decisions and behavior (Posthuma, Fernanda Wagstaff, & Campion, 2012). A serious consequence of negative stereotyping is that it might trigger self-fulfilling prophecies where older workers become less motivated, leading to more negative attitudes (Hertel et al., 2013a). An example would be older employees who are excluded from decision or change processes because their supervisors expect that their remaining career will not be long enough to warrant participation (Schermuly et al., 2014). This reinforces the negative stereotype that older workers are less productive (Backes-Gellner & Veen, 2013).
Age Discrimination Policies
Discriminating policies can affect the hiring process when older workers do not receive equal opportunity to participate in human development activities (Schermuly, Schroder, Nachtwei, Kauffeld, & Glas, 2012), or when younger workers are preferred for promotions (Furunes & Mykletun, 2010). Older workers may also receive less job training, leading to decreased competence (Schermuly et al., 2014), and resulting in lower performance ratings from their supervisors (Saks & Waldman, 1998).
Organizations needed strategies to enhance successful aging in the workplace among their older employees to increase retention (Cheung & Wu, 2013). Cheung & Wu (2013) suggests that organizations “should provide training opportunities for older employees to enhance their skills and competence, which can promote their job adaptability and potential for further occupational growth in the workplace” (p. 657). To eliminate age discrimination policies and practices, management should employ a variety of tools, including: awareness training in age diversity, recognizing age stereotyping/ discrimination early, providing age-differentiated workplace strategies, considering age diversity in team composition, and balancing the needs of younger and older workers fairly and transparently (Hertel et al., 2013b).
Age Diversity Challenges
Over the last decades, human resources management systems have primarily concentrated on individuals younger than 55 years old, with many companies not employing anyone over the age of 50. The result has been the gradual disappearance of “competencies on how to manage and lead older individuals” (Hertel et al., 2013a, p.736). As age diversity in the workplace increases, creating new challenges for managers, the most profound will be the need for organizational leadership to learn how to manage and lead older employees.
Organizations will encounter other challenges while trying to build...