Aging in the 21st century workplace: The career motivation of mature workers

Aging in the 21st century workplace: The career motivation of mature workers


  • Gillian Leithman (Concordia University)
  • Linda Dyer (Concordia University)


  • John Molson School of Business, Concordia University

The current project sought to examine the late career motivation of older workers. Specifically, we explored the willingness of mature employees to share their knowledge and experience with younger colleagues, and their intention to continue working past the age of 65 as opposed to retiring. Three studies were conducted using qualitative and quantitative approaches. The objective of the first qualitative study was to investigate how people felt about sharing their knowledge with their younger counterparts and whether or not this motivation changed as people transitioned from work to retirement. Findings indicated that the majority of participants wanted to share their knowledge however, this desire could only be actualized in an organizational environment that valued older workers. Results also suggested that individual motives such as the need for achievement, power and affiliation have an impact upon the decision to continue working or retire.

We then used the propositions from the previous study to develop The Late Career Motivation Scale, which resulted in a four-factor model in which two factors assess reasons for retirement and two factors assess reasons for continued work.

In our third study, we used an online to survey to examine the links between the organizational environment and knowledge sharing behaviour, as well as the relationships between individual motives and the likelihood of continued work. Findings revealed that having supportive colleagues predicted knowledge sharing behavior. In addition, people who are achievement oriented indicated that they are more likely to continue working. Overall, results revealed that mature employees want to share their knowledge with their younger counterparts, however, an organizational environment that nurtures and values expertise is essential for knowledge sharing to occur. 

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