HRM should focus on employees’ life stages rather than age

THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN JOB DEMANDS, JOB RESOURCES, STRAIN, AND WORK ENJOYMENT: A MATTER OF AGE?

Bert Schreurs, Anja Van den Broeck, Guy Notelaers, Beate Van der Heijden, & Hans De Witte

Published in Gedrag & Organisatie

Drawing on the Selection-Optimization-Compensation theory and the Job Demands-Resources model this study addresses the following research questions: (1) are there mean differences in the perceived levels of particular job characteristics between employees from different age groups; and (2) to what extent does the relationship between job characteristics and work outcomes (i.e., job strain and work enjoyment) differ across age groups? Data were collected from a sample of 15,464 employees, of which 3,850 were younger than 35 (young group), 7,273 were between 36 and 45 (middle group), and 4,341 were older than 45 (old group). Significant age differences were found in the levels of job characteristics: Young employees are most positive about their relationships with their colleagues and direct supervisor, and report to have the lowest levels of workload; employees from the middle group report to have the highest levels of role conflict; employees from the oldest age group perceive to have the highest levels of autonomy, and perceive more than other employees to be confronted with hindering changes at work. In addition, the strength of the relationship between job characteristics and work outcomes differed across age groups, although differences were rather small. From this we conclude that HR management should focus on creating high-quality jobs for all employees, young and old.

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