Older Worker: the View of Dutch employers in an European perspective

Wieteke Conen

    Research output: Book/ReportBookAcademic


    Objective: In most Western countries, macro-level actors realise there are major challenges ahead in dealing with an ageing society. Demographic developments will have large consequences for welfare state expenditures and will profoundly alter the composition and level of labour supply on the labour market. Although various measures to raise the participation levels of older workers have been suggested for a good length of time now, there is still only limited insight into how employers are behaving towards older workers. The aim of this dissertation is to improve our understanding of employers’ attitudes and actions towards older workers. Design/methodology/approach: The central questions of this study are (1) whether Dutch employers’ behaviour has been changing over time and (2) how European employers are behaving towards older workers, offering the opportunity to analyse behaviour of Dutch employers in a European perspective. To answer these questions, a questionnaire was developed and international survey data was jointly collected within the framework of a research project called ‘Activating Senior Potential in Ageing Europe’ [ASPA]. Consortium partners of the ASPA-project collected survey data among employers in eight European countries: Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The surveys were sent to company directors, owners and heads of HR departments (‘employers’) and ‘older workers’ were defined as workers aged 50 years and older. Besides survey research, all consortium partners conducted case study research at the organisational level in their own country. Findings: This dissertation shows that in the Netherlands, retention behaviour has been modestly changing over the last decade, which seems to be incited by institutional changes. However, older workers’ recruitment and retention levels are still low in the whole of Europe and employers rather retain than recruit older workers. European employers associate an ageing staff primarily with an increasing gap between labour costs and productivity and this expected labour cost-productivity gap is especially an issue in the Netherlands. Nevertheless, employers expecting a labour cost-productivity gap do not apply more organisational measures to bridge this gap. Employers think that effective governmental policies to increase the labour force participation of older workers are predominantly to be found in the combination of work and retirement. Originality/ value: The dissertation addresses the employers’ perspective on older workers and extension of working lives; a perspective that is often neglected in the scientific literature compared to attitudes and behaviour of older workers themselves and research on institutional arrangements. This paper is also among the first to report on employers’ policies and practices from a cross-national perspective. Additionally, in terms of societal relevance it is of vital importance to address issues on the demand side, as employers are one of the key players in defining opportunities as well as restrictions for extension of working lives. Knowledge of employers’ attitudes and actions towards older workers and their views on prolongation of working lives makes it easier to anticipate the feasibility of governmental policy measures in this field and organisations may benefit from this knowledge when developing and introducing personnel policies
    Original languageEnglish
    PublisherAmsterdam University Press
    Number of pages174
    ISBN (Print)978-90-6984-665-1
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


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