Health-related Work Limitations Among Older Workers— the Role of Flexible Work Arrangements and Organizational Climate

  • Kène Henkens Kène Henkens
  • Ute Bültmann Ute Bültmann

Background and Objectives: Given their increasing prevalence with age, chronic health conditions (CHCs) are substantially affecting older workers and organizations. An important question is whether and how flexible work arrangements and organizational climates may help to reduce the work limitations experienced by older workers. Grounded on the Job Demand–Resource model, we hypothesize that access to flexible work arrangements (working-time flexibility, workplace flexibility, phased retirement) and supportive organizational climates (healthy ageing climate, psychological safety climate) are vital job resources that are associated with fewer health-related work limitations among older workers experiencing CHCs.

Research Design and Methods: Multilevel data were collected among 5,419 older workers (60–65 years) in 624 organizations in the Netherlands. Perceived health-related work limitations of older workers diagnosed with arthritis (N = 2,330), cardiovascular disease (N = 720), and sleep disorders (N = 816) were analyzed.

Results: Multilevel ordered logistic regression analyses revealed that perceived access to flexible working hours and a psychologically safe organizational climate was associated with fewer health-related work limitations among older workers with CHCs.

Discussion and Implications: Facilitating longer working lives is a key policy challenge within organizations, in particular if older workers are constraint by CHCs. This study shows that offering flexible working hours and ensuring a psychologically safe climate, where older workers with health issues are inclined to share their work needs and preferences, are likely to
contribute to healthy ageing in the workplace.

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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