The work attitudes of mature employees
- Linda Dyer (Concordia University)
- Nicole Bérubé (Royal Military College)
- John Molson School of Business, Concordia University
We examine the link between age and employees’ satisfaction with their jobs and with their organizations. A large body of evidence suggests that as people age, these work attitudes become increasingly positive. There are a variety of explanations for this intriguing result, and one explanation we are examining is that as people get older, they become increasingly aware that their time is not infinite. As their perceived time horizon shrinks, people focus on those aspects of life that are most satisfying emotionally—familiar social contacts and enjoyable activities.
We argue that at the workplace, a key aspect of emotional satisfaction is the mature employee’s expertise. Over the length of their careers, workers’ expertise increases—their work-related knowledge and their understanding of their organization or industry. On a daily basis, the older employees’ expertise may be recognized when younger colleagues seek their advice or mentorship, and when peers or supervisors show that they value the employees’ skills and wisdom. Self-awareness may also be key—seasoned employees get a sense of their own worth as they contemplate their increasing ability to solve work problems. Cumulative expertise facilitates their work and helps workers dismiss minor setbacks and feel more positively about their worth to the organization.
In brief, in this project, we are exploring how the recall of their own expertise plays into mature employees’ feelings of wellbeing and positive attitudes towards their job and their organization. Moreover, we note that the age that one feels may be as important as the age one is. Thus we measure subjective age, an evaluation of how old individuals perceive themselves to be, as well as chronological age—years lived.