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 10: Resiliency at work for older employees

Gregory Thrasher, Keith Zabel and Boris Baltes

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


According to statistics from the United States Department of Labor (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2008), there has been a startling increase in the population of older workers in the labor force over the past few decades. Specifically, in the 30 years from 1977 to 2007, the number of workers over 65 years of age increased by 101 percent compared to a 59 percent increase in workers 16 years of age and over. Even more drastic is the 172 percent increase seen in workers over the age of 75 years. Researchers commonly discuss topics such as the stereotypes of older workers (Van Dalen et al., 2010), chronic illness in older workers (Koolhaas et al., 2013), motivations across the lifespan (Kanfer et al., 2013), and the various interventions (P.B. Baltes and Baltes, 1990) used to help older workers in today’s workplace cope with the challenges caused by aging. These topics tend to point to common problems faced by older workers, and then offer solutions that the individual or the organization can put in place to buffer the negative outcomes of these problems. However, the factors that make some older workers thrive in the face of challenges, while others experience much more negative outcomes, are an important yet understudied area regarding the wellbeing of the aging working population. One factor that is often discussed as playing a role in individuals overcoming adversity is resiliency (Fortinsky et al., 2013; Perna et al., 2012; Winwood et al., 2013).

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