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The experience of being an older worker in an organization: a qualitative analysis

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journal contribution
posted on 2016-03-23, 11:20 authored by Stanimira Taneva, John ArnoldJohn Arnold, Rod Nicolson
This qualitative study with 37 older workers from ten employing organizations in two countries (United Kingdom and Bulgaria) and two industrial sectors (healthcare and ICT) identifies key themes around workers’ conceptualizations of being an older worker and aging at work, and the types of organizational support they considered most beneficial in late career. The study integrates current fragmented theories around work performance and well-being in late career and also introduces new concepts in this context. We find that overall older workers are likely to view their late career more in terms of development than decline. This is reflected in their positive perceptions of themselves and their conceptualizations of beneficial age-related changes such as ability to see the big picture and freedom to speak frankly. Many of these stem from their accumulated knowledge and experiences, and valuing meaning and contribution over career advancement. Whilst some concern with coping and getting by is evident (we call this surviving), interviewees were able to articulate many ways in which they felt they were thriving (Porath et al., 2012) at work. We identify nine types of organizational support perceived by these older workers as most desirable (whether or not available). Four concern intrinsic features of work, three are to do with social integration and respect, and two concern extrinsic factors. Hence there is much that organizations can do apart from retirement programs and flexible work options to enable workers in late career to thrive and survive.



  • Business and Economics


  • Business

Published in

Work, Aging and Retirement


TANEVA, S., ARNOLD, J. and NICOLSON, R., 2016. The experience of being an older worker in an organization: a qualitative analysis. Work, Aging and Retirement, 2 (4), pp.396-414.


© Oxford University Press


  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

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This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Work, Aging and Retirement following peer review. The version of record is available online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/workar/waw011






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