PRODUCTIVE AGING AND WORK
Organizations that Recognize the Priorities of Both Workers and Organizations
The range of desired outcomes of productive aging may not always be the same for workers and the organizations in which they are employed. The Table below presents selected outcomes that can be considered either “worker-centered” or “organization-centered.” Some of the outcomes are very similar for the two categories (e.g., safety and health of the workforce), whereas other outcomes (e.g., fair treatment and respect, low turnover and absenteeism) tend to reflect the specific needs and priorities of each category.
|Worker-Centered Outcomes||Organization-Centered Outcomes|
|Maintenance of individual physical and mental health||Lower health care costs|
|Safe work environment||Reduced workplace injuries, disability, and worker’s compensation costs|
|High level of job satisfaction||Low turnover and absenteeism|
|Ability to make contribution to the organization||Maintenance or improvement in overall productivity of workforce|
|Ability to meet needs outside of work||Recruitment and retention of experienced workers|
|Fair treatment and respect||Transfer of expertise between generations|
The bidirectional arrow in the middle reflects a growing consensus among workplace experts that changes in either of these two categories of outcomes can affect the other. For example, studies on worker well-being have consistently found that improvements on this “worker-centered” outcome can lead to reduced absenteeism, higher productivity, and fewer reported workplace injuries (all “organization-centered” outcomes). Similarly, an organization that increases its productivity and is able to transfer knowledge to younger workers through mentoring programs may have, as a result, more resources to invest in worker well-being programs and injury prevention.
The bidirectional nature of this relationship suggests that both categories of outcomes need to be acknowledged and targeted in any attempt to encourage productive aging. Failure to attend to both categories may serve to undermine the programs and policies that are implemented. Focusing on both categories can contribute to a “culture of health” that will help sustain improvements in productive aging over time.
- Harter, J.K., Schmidt, F.L., & Keyes, C.L. (2002). Well-being in the workplace and its relationship to business outcomes: A review of the Gallup studies. In C.L. Keyes & J. Haidt (Eds.), Flourishing: The positive person and the good life (pp. 205-224). Washington D.C.: American Psychological Association.
- Wilson, M.G., Dejoy, D.M., Vanderbeg, R.J. et al. (2004). Work characteristics and employee health and well-being: Test of a model of healthy work organization. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 77, 565-588.