Thriving at 55+: supporting late career employees in satisfying and productive work

2016-05-11T10:11:34Z (GMT) by Stanimira Taneva John Arnold
Population ageing is taking place in almost all areas of the world with Japan, Germany and Italy being the most ageing countries. Being a result of two simultaneous developments - the steady increase of life expectancy across Europe and falling fertility rates, demographic ageing is expected to become entrenched in many countries during the next half of the century with the number of people aged 60 years or over increasing more than twice and exceeding the number of children by 2050. Thus, the ageing population becomes a key challenge for society and an important social and economic responsibility. Furthermore, the ageing of the population has led and will lead to significant changes in the workforce, particularly demonstrated by the rise of employment rates amongst older workers (usually workers aged 55 years and over). As the need to keep older workers in the workforce has been referred to as an “emergency”, various prevention measures ranging from changes in the legislation and social security systems to the introduction of tailored life-long learning programmes and flexible work models have been undertaken recently. As result, across Europe there has been a considerable increase of the employment rates of older workers (aged 55-64) over the last ten years from 38% to 47%. There is a wealth of examples about how employers can benefit from hiring and retaining older employees at work. Reforms in the pension and legislation systems have been made, and actions in terms of the development of age neutral recruitment and retention measures have been undertaken. Most arguments are around potential financial and social benefits as results of utilising older workers’ experience and transferring their skills to younger employees within organisations. However, the task of retaining older workers in the workforce is a reflection of individual needs as well as societal ones. Research on older workers’ motives to stay at work demonstrates that beyond financial needs people see their inclusion in the labour market as an important aspect of their personal identity and their social life. Older workers’ successful involvement with the labour market could be related to their own overall well-being, which is reflected in the concept of ‘successful ageing’ taking into account age-related changes in work-related abilities and motives. Also, it is not just a question of keeping older workers in work: how can one also make the most of their contribution? The “Thriving at 55+” project addresses the question of how older workers experience their ageing in the workplace and focuses particularly on the features of work and work environment that both older workers and their employers consider important for older workers’ well-being and performance. It investigates in-depth the personal and organisational strategies that are most effective in helping older workers to not just maintain, but also improve their well-being and performance at work and, therefore, ensure better and longer working lives.