Thriving, surviving and performing in late career: a mixed-method study of pathways to successful aging in organizations

2017-11-06T13:52:44Z (GMT) by Stanimira Taneva John Arnold
We develop and test a model of successful aging at work in two studies. The first identifies key human resource (HR) practices that late-career workers find valuable, and explores workers’ experiences of them. The second examines the role of those practices along with individual behavioral strategies in successful aging at work, as expressed by a sense of thriving and by three dimensions of job performance. We also introduce the new construct of surviving at work, contrasting with thriving. Study 1 reports qualitative data from interviews with 37 older workers (nearly all 55+) and 10 human resource managers in the United Kingdom (UK) and Bulgarian healthcare and information and communication technology sectors. Study 2 employs quantitative data from 853 UK older workers in the same two sectors. We find (Study 1) eight types of HR practices that seem particularly salient to older workers, and which they experience to varying extents. These practices cut across existing typologies, and we recommend them for future research. In Study 2 we find that selection, optimization and compensation strategies adopted by individuals are directly related to self-rated job performance, and mediate some of the effects of HR practices on job performance. In addition, optimization specifically affects performance via thriving, and to a lesser extent via surviving. The same is true for availability of HR practices. The results demonstrate the importance of both HR practices and individual strategies in fostering successful aging at work, and the important role of thriving in this process.