Can They Stay or Will They Go? A Cross Sectional Study of Managers' Attitudes towards Their Senior Employees

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Jan 18;19(3):1057. doi: 10.3390/ijerph19031057.


A larger amount of older people need to participate in working life due to the global demographic change. It is the employer, through the manager, who enables employees to have access to measures in the workplace that facilitate and enable a sustainable extended working life. The aim of this study was to evaluate work life factors associated with managers believing their employees can work versus wanting to work until age 65 or older. This cross-sectional study included 249 managers in the Swedish municipality sector. Logistic regression analysis was used to investigate associations between different univariate estimates and in data modelling using the SwAge-model. The result stated that 79% of managers believed their employees 'can' work and 58% of managers believed their employees 'want to' work until age 65 or older. Health, physical work environment, skills and competence are associated the strongest to managers believing employees 'can' work until age 65 or older. Insufficient social support at work and lacking possibilities for relocations associated the strongest to managers believing employees would not 'want to' work until age 65 or older. Though, several countries (especially in Europe) have included in their social policy measures that retirement age be increased after 65, proposing ages approaching 70. When these proposals become laws, through obligation, people will have no choice (if they want to or if they can continue working). However, people's attitudes to work may be different (especially after the COVID-19 pandemic), and this analysis of the participating managers' attitudes showed there is a difference between why employees 'can' versus 'want' to work respectively. Therefore, different strategies may be needed to contribute to employees both being able to and willing to participate in working life until an older age. These findings on managers' perspectives, regarding whether they believe employees would be able to versus would want to work and the SwAge-model, will hopefully contribute to an increased understanding of organisational actions and measures in the process of creating a sustainable extended working life and to increase senior employees' employability.

Keywords: age management; ageing; demography; discrimination; employability; extended working life; older worker; retirement; senior worker; social support; swAge-model; work ability; work environment; work–life balance.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Attitude
  • COVID-19*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Pandemics*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Workplace