Differential Consequences and Rewards of Organizational Citizenship Behavior for Younger and Older Workers
Employees are increasingly pushing back retirement leading to an older and higher proportion of older employees in the workplace. In fact, the SHRM Workplace Forecast (2013) released by The Society for Human Resource’s listed the generation gap as a top future workplace trend. In addition, women are to becoming more and more a part of today’s workforce. However, both older individuals and women remain highly stereotyped groups.
A majority of workplace stereotypes toward older adults and women are unfounded and serve as unfair hurdles towards these groups. A common stereotype of elder individuals is that they are less innovative than their younger peers. As a result they are often excluded from innovative-related tasks. However, a meta-analysis by Ng and Feldman (2013) found this to be false; in fact, they posit that work experience has the potential to increase innovation. Such inaccurate perceptions may lead to these groups to loose out on opportunities such as job offers or promotion consideration.
Stereotypes are the knowledge, beliefs, and expectancies that an individual uses when forming perceptions about different social groups (Hamilton et al., 1990). They are used to describe what individuals should be like. The qualities ascribed from the descriptive stereotypes are used to form a societal prescription of how certain groups of people should act (Prentice & Carranza, 2002). These prescriptive stereotypes are particularly problematic in the workplace as they lay the norms for how specific groups should behave. When individuals go against such norms, negative reactions are often revoked for behaving counterstereotypically (Rudman & Phelan, 2008). This “backlash” is frequently a problem for both older workers and women who do not match society’s “prescriptive stereotypes.”
In Western culture older adults are often understood as lonely or sick (Kotter-Grühn & Hess, 2012). Similarly, women are viewed as sensitive, sweet caretakers who need to be protected by the more assertive male (Bem, 1980). Accordingly, those who are seeking leadership roles are likely to be overlooked unless they act in ways considered a-typical (Rudman & Phelan, 2008). Yet, Rudman & Phelan (2008) continue to argue that the prescriptive nature of gender stereotypes often result in negative reactions to those who choose to act against the norm as they are often perceived as overly aggressive.
Past literature on age and job performance has overlooked job behaviors, other than core task performance, that are known to improve job performance (Ng & Feldman, 2008). Such additional behaviors include organizational citizenship behavior (OCB). While there has been research on how age and gender stereotypes affect how individuals should and thus do behave (Fiske, 1993; Lemus et al, 2013; Levy et al, 2000; Plante et al, 2013), the current study seeks to explore how...