Ageing, health and retirement choices in a diverse workforce : a case study of a large private sector retail organisation

Edge, CE ORCID: 2017, Ageing, health and retirement choices in a diverse workforce : a case study of a large private sector retail organisation , PhD thesis, University of Salford.

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State pension age is due to rise to 68 years in the UK for both men and women by 2046 and the statutory retirement age has been removed. Organisations need to better adapt to the needs of their older employees. Research suggests that a growing number of people want to remain employed past traditional retirement age if the correct conditions are in place such as flexible working arrangements or measures to improve employees’ enjoyment of their work. Health is a key predictor of retirement. Good health acts as an enabler to extending working life. This research aims to explore the factors that enable or inhibit people to work for longer, post traditional retirement age, in a large UK based private sector retail organisation.

There are two phases to the study: Phase One is the descriptive and inferential secondary data analysis of existing human resource data in relation to the health and wellbeing of the work force. This is based on a cohort of the employee work force in the retail sector taken over a three-year period from 2011-2013 (2013 data N=76,379) with a focus on workers aged ≥ 50 (n=19,244). The second phase is a qualitative study using semi-structured interviews with a purposive sample of 30 participants: 15 employees aged ≥ 60 and 15 supervisors supporting these employees. The aim of phase two is to explore employee experiences of nearing or working beyond state pensionable age, as well as the factors enabling and inhibiting people to work for longer. Phase Two also explores the organisational and store level factors that enable and inhibit people to work for longer.

Findings from Phase One show that 76% of workers aged ≥ 50 in the study population (n=14,596) are female. Specific needs associated with female older workers are reflected in the rates of mental ill-health, whereby the largest increases in proportion of ‘mental ill health’ cases across three years were found in the older female worker group. Older workers represent 25% of employees, but account for 39% of all long-term sickness. Although men had fewer instances of time off for mental ill health issues, for long-term absence males had significantly higher recovery time (M=63days, SD=54 days) than females (M=57 days, SD=47 days).

Female older employees and those in the north of England had a significantly higher probability of retirement during 2-years follow-up. Older workers showed gendered workplace sickness absence trends and ill health was been found to be a key predictor of retirement.

In Phase Two the majority of older workers and supervisors reported that facilitators to extending their working lives were: the values of the organisation in respect of its ethos and long history within the community; good health; the social aspects of work, which were considered to be beneficial for health; good support from supervisors; good team dynamics; positive self-perceptions of ageing; and a choice in shift patterns with a preference for morning shifts.

Perceived barriers to extended working life included poor health, negative impacts of work on health, for example due to issues such as prolonged standing, and a lack of respect and support from management and colleagues, specifically in respect of:
• Intergenerational (across the generations from young to old) barriers.
• The majority of older females interviewed experienced a lack of choice to EWL e.g. caring responsibilities acted as a barrier to EWL.
To address these barriers, it is suggested that flexible working practices and choice of shift patterns should be considered as well as practices harnessing the social and community aspects of work. Further, it is recommended that an organisational approach to championing age and EWL as part of an overall life-course approach to diversity management should be implemented.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Schools: Schools > School of Health and Society
Depositing User: CE Edge
Date Deposited: 22 Feb 2018 15:40
Last Modified: 11 Nov 2021 12:23

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