Table of Contents

The Multi-generational and Aging Workforce

The Multi-generational and Aging Workforce

Challenges and Opportunities

New Horizons in Management series

Edited by Ronald J. Burke, Cary Cooper and Alexander-Stamatios Antoniou

The workforce is aging as people live longer and healthier lives, and mandatory retirement has become a relic of the past. Though workforces have always contained both younger and older employees the age range today has expanded, and the generational gap has become more distinct. This book advocates the need for talented employees of all ages as a way to prevent potential skill shortages and considers both the challenges and opportunities that these changes raise for individual organizations. The benefits they discuss include greater employee diversity with regards to knowledge, skills experience and perspectives, whilst challenges involve potential generational tensions, stereotypes and age biases. The book further places an emphasis on initiatives to create generation-friendly workplaces; these involve fostering lifelong learning, tackling age stereotypes and biases, employing reverse mentoring where younger employees mentor older employees, and offering older individuals career options including phased retirement, bridge employment and encore careers.

Chapter 9: Motivational goals and competencies of older workers who re-engaged in the workforce

J. Barton Cunningham, Diana Campbell and Jennifer Kroeker-Hall

Subjects: business and management, human resource management, organisational behaviour


There is a growing discussion of the impact of the ageing global workforce on society. Most projections suggest that the labour force of the future will become older and increasingly ethnoculturally diverse, with some significant changes to be observed in the years following 2020. The purpose of this study is to develop a better understanding of the motivational goals and competencies of older workers who re-engaged in the workforce. In particular, we interviewed people who are self-directed in their goals and how they responded to life span and interpersonal issues. Our data were generated through a purposive sampling approach. We conducted interviews with 25 individuals (7 women and 18 men) over 55 years who have retired and continue to work in some capacity, or who have reached a retirement threshold and choose to continue working. We found three sets of competencies that self-directed older workers illustrated in being successful in adjusting to life span issues and other obstacles they faced: sustaining motivation, adapting to life span issues, and sustaining relationships.

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