Dutch Employers’ Responses to an Aging Workforce

  • Hendrik P. van Dalen Hendrik P. van Dalen
  • Jaap Oude Mulders Jaap Oude Mulders
  • Kène Henkens Kène Henkens

Employers are central actors in shaping employment opportunities for older workers and facilitating longer working lives. In this article, we examine how employers have adapted their attitudes and organizational policies and practices to deal with an aging workforce. We do so by comparing data from two large surveys on the subject of workforce aging among employers in the Netherlands, held in 2009 and 2017. The situation in the Netherlands forms an interesting case study as the country is in the midst of transitioning from a society with high rates of early retirement to one with comparatively high employment participation rates of older workers and an increasing statutory retirement age. The results show that employers have strong concerns regarding the costs of employing an aging workforce and about the potentially negative effects of aging on organizational productivity. At the same time, however, employers have become much more active in offering human resource practices aimed at accommodating and training older workers, and employers are generally more supportive of work at higher ages. Overall, we identify a growing sense of urgency among employers to invest in longer working lives and to ensure the long-term work ability of older workers. However, there is still a strong desire among employers for policy changes that offer a lower statutory retirement age for workers in physically demanding jobs or a more attainable form of part-time retirement to ease the transition to longer working lives.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a thinktank and knowledge network. Netspar is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the economic and social implications of pensions, aging and retirement in the Netherlands and Europe.

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