Older Workers in an Ageing Society
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Older Workers in an Ageing Society

Critical Topics in Research and Policy

Edited by Philip Taylor

Prolonging working lives is high on the agenda of policy makers in most of the world’s major industrialized nations. This book explains how they are keen to tackle issues associated with the ageing of populations, namely the funding of pension systems and predictions concerning a dwindling labour supply. Yet the recent history of older workers has primarily been one of premature exit from the labour force in the form of redundancy or early retirement. Add to this a previously plentiful supply of younger labour and it is clear that much of industry will be unprepared for the challenges of ageing workforces.
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Chapter 13: Generational relations and the workplace: a critique of the concept

Victor W. Marshall and Amber L. Wells


The term, ‘generations in the workplace’ is now in common usage inhuman resources management circles. This has not always been so. The term ‘generation’ has been used in the family or kinship sense for millennia, and has been employed for over three centuries in historical and social science literature, but its specific use to describe social relations in the workplace is much more recent. There is tremendous ambiguity and confusion in how this term is used in the human resources literature, by consulting firms, think-tanks and others. So great is this ambiguity and confusion that, we argue, people are essentially talking past each other when they reference generations in the workplace or workforce. Confusion and imprecision in current use of the concept make it difficult to implement effective policies concerning age-related phenomena in the workplace or the workforce. We will begin by describing our methods to gather data about use of the ‘generations in the workplace’ concept.

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