Age and work satisfaction | Flexible work’s influence on retirement savings | Gender roles and employment pathways | Reactions to age stereotypes

Age, Person–Environment Fit and Work Satisfaction

Rauvola, R. S., Rudolph, C. W., Ebbert, L. K., & Zacher, H. (2019). Person–Environment Fit and Work Satisfaction: Exploring the Conditional Effects of Age. Work, Aging and Retirement.

Person–environment (PE) fit, a broad constellation of constructs related to an individual’s congruence with their work environment, is of great interest to research and practice given its implications for positive work outcomes and sustainable employment.

Informed by a life-span perspective, particularly socioemotional selectivity theory, the present studies investigated potential age-conditional effects of PE fit types (person–job [PJ], person–group [PG], and person–organization [PO] fit) on work satisfaction.

In two studies, a policy-capturing approach was used in which participants read a series of work scenario vignettes and then rated their hypothetical work satisfaction in these scenarios. In Study 1, these cues varied by fit type and levels of fit (i.e., low, medium, high), while in Study 2, they varied by fit type and level in addition to goal type (i.e., socioemotional, instrumental). It was expected that PJ fit would be more important for work satisfaction of relatively younger participants and PO fit would be more important for relatively older participants; potential age-conditional PG effects were explored as well.

Findings provided support for the assumption that PO fit is more important for older individuals’ work satisfaction, while PJ and PG fit manifested mixed results; moreover, we did not find significant effects of goal type as anticipated in Study 2. These results are interpreted in light of existing theory, and future research directions and potential applications are discussed.

Effect of paid sick leave, flexible work, and vacation benefit status on retirement savings

Patricia Stoddard-Dare, LeaAnne DeRigne, Cyleste Collins & Linda Quinn (2019). Retirement savings among U.S. older adult male workers by paid sick leave, flexible work, and vacation benefit status, Community, Work & Family.

Using a nationally representative sample from the 2012 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, this study evaluates the retirement savings of 994 older male US workers (ages 47–55) by their access to flextime, paid sick leave and vacation time.

After controlling for 12 demographic, education, household, and work-related variables, when measured dichotomously, multiple regression findings indicated workers with flexible work time enjoyed a 24.8% increase in retirement savings compared to those who did not have flexible work time, and workers with paid sick leave had retirement savings 29.6% higher than those workers who lacked paid sick leave benefits. Further, when paid sick leave and vacation time were measured ordinally, workers with six to 10 paid sick leave days and workers with more than 10 paid sick days annually had a statistically significantly higher (30.1% and 40.7%, respectively) amount in their retirement savings. Statistically significant decreases in retirement savings were observed for workers with 1–5 vacation days annually.

These robust findings suggest the provision of flextime and paid sick leave benefits may affect retirement savings among older adult male workers. Implications for policy are set forth.

Gender roles and employment pathways

Van der Horst, M., Lain, D., Vickerstaff, S., Clark, C., & Baumberg Geiger, B. (2017). Gender roles and employment pathways of older women and men in England. Sage Open, 7(4), 2158244017742690.

In the context of population aging, the U.K. government is encouraging people to work longer and delay retirement, and it is claimed that many people now make “gradual” transitions from full-time to part-time work to retirement. Part-time employment in older age may, however, be largely due to women working part-time before older age, as per a U.K. “modified male breadwinner” model.

This article therefore separately examines the extent to which men and women make transitions into part-time work in older age, and whether such transitions are influenced by marital status. Following older men and women over a 10-year period using the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, this article presents sequence, cluster, and multinomial logistic regression analyses. Little evidence is found for people moving into part-time work in older age. Typically, women did not work at all or they worked part-time (with some remaining in part-time work and some retiring/exiting from this activity). Consistent with a “modified male breadwinner” logic, marriage was positively related to the likelihood of women belonging to typically “female employment pathway clusters,” which mostly consist of part-time work or not being employed. Men were mostly working full-time regardless of marital status.

Attempts to extend working lives among older women are therefore likely to be complicated by the influence of traditional gender roles on employment.

Responses to Age Meta-stereotypes

Finkelstein, L. M., Voyles, E. C., Thomas, C. L., & Zacher, H. (2020). A Daily Diary Study of Responses to Age Meta-stereotypes. Work, Aging and Retirement, 6(1), 28-45.

An age meta-stereotype occurs when we activate the idea that another age group is holding a stereotype of our age group, but what happens after this occurs?

We used experience sampling methodology to explore reactions to, and subsequent behaviors associated with, positive and negative age meta-stereotypes occurring over the course of a work week. One hundred eighty-five employees from various organizations across the United States responded to a daily survey tapping into activation of positive and negative age meta-stereotypes, reactions (threat, challenge, or boost), and interpersonal behaviors (avoidance, conflict, and engagement).

Hypotheses regarding relationships among reactions and behaviors were largely supported, but there were some unexpected findings regarding reactions to positive and negative age meta-stereotypes. Of particular interest: (a) younger respondents experienced more negative age meta-stereotypes than older respondents, even those that have been shown to be typically older meta-stereotypes, and (b) experiencing older negative meta-stereotypes, regardless of the age of the respondent, was related to challenge reactions while experiencing younger negative meta-stereotypes, regardless of the age of respondent, was related to threat.

Our findings demonstrate advantages to studying age meta-stereotypes using experience sampling methods, and point to a need for more theoretical refinement to account for different reactions and behaviors depending on respondent age and type of meta-stereotype.