Longitudinal perspectives on how organizations react to workforce aging are missing in the literature. In this study, we fill this gap and ask how organizations deal with older workers, how their approaches change over time, and in which sectors of the economy and types of organizations the changes were most profound.
Data come from two large-scale employer surveys: 2009 (n = 1,077) and 2017 (n = 1,358), representative for the Netherlands. We use a three-step group-comparison latent class analysis combined with a multinomial logistic model.
We found four clusters of organizations based on their practices regarding older workers—those trying to activate and develop their employees (active), focusing solely on exit measures (exit), implementing a combination of development, accommodating and exit measures (all), and practicing no age management (none). We find a major shift in employers’ approaches to aging workforces between 2009 and 2017, with strong decreases in those that offered no age management (47%–30%) and those focusing on exit measures (21%–6%), and an increase in active organizations (19%–52%). Active age management is no longer concentrated in large and developing organizations, but has become a standard human resources tool economy-wide.
Discussion and Implications
Overall, there is a long-term trend away from exit measures toward the application of proactive age management measures. More involvement of employers in retaining older adults in the workplace may signal a growing awareness of the changing demographic reality.