Personnel Psychology Special Issue
What’s Age got to do with it? Age and Age-Related Differences in the workplace
Note: Final submission deadline extended to October 1, 2020 due to COVID-19.
Special Issue Editors:
Margaret Beier, Rice University
Ruth Kanfer, Georgia Institute of Technology
Dorien Kooij, Tilburg University
Donald Truxillo, Kemmy Business School, University of Limerick
Industrialized workforces across the world are aging and growing more age-diverse. It is estimated that by 2024, 38.2% of workers in the United States will be age 55 or older (Toossi et al., 2015). Similarly, in about half of the European Union (EU) countries more than 20% of the workforce will be older than 55 in 2035 (Aiyar, Ebeke, & Shao, 2016). At the same time, the overall labor force participation rate is declining. In the United States it is estimated that the labor force participation rate will be 61% by 2026 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017). Similarly, the EU workforce is expected to decline by 4.3 million people by 2020 (Eurostat, 2017), and it is expected to shrink further by 12% in 2030 and by 33% in 2060 compared with 2009 levels (European Commission, 2010). These low rates of workforce participation along with the aging workforce strain retirement systems and other social safety net programs. For example, while there were 3.8 people of working age for every dependent person over 65 in the EU in 2002, this number fell to 3.2 people in 2015. By 2020, there will be fewer than three people of working age for every dependent person over 65 in the EU (Eurostat, 2019). To combat this strain on retirement systems, many European governments are raising their official pension age, but labor market participation continues to decrease from age 50 onwards in Europe (Eurostat, 2017). In addition, with increased retirement ages, workplaces are growing more age-diverse, with younger and older people working together more frequently than in the past (Boehm, Kunze, & Bruch, 2014; Finkelstein & Truxillo, 2013).
To address the challenges associated with an aging workforce and lower workforce participation among older employees, it is critical to understand how to keep individuals working effectively and participating in the labor market across the lifespan. Researchers have called for studies to understand the attitudes, behavior, and wellbeing of workers across the lifespan (e.g., Hertel & Zacher, 2018; Kooij, Zacher, Wang, & Heckhausen, 2019; Kunze & Boehm, 2013; Truxillo, Cadiz, & Hammer, 2015; Zacher, Kooij, & Beier, 2018). Hence, organizations and researchers recently have focused their attention on understanding and managing age differences in the workplace and ensuring that younger and older workers work together effectively (Finkelstein et al., 2015).
This Special Issue focuses on mid-life and older adult workers and age-differences in the workplace. The goal is to highlight empirical work that offers insights into research on phenomena related to age at work; proposes and tests new theory; and/or integrates existing work to explain the role of age in employee attitudes, motivation, behavior, well-being, and retirement and how organizations and societies can enhance these outcomes for workers across the lifespan. Studies may use an array of methods including field methodological designs (e.g., longitudinal, multilevel, within-person, qualitative methods, interventions), meta-analyses, and experimental methods.
With the theme of investigating age within organizations in mind, we offer possible questions to be addressed by papers within the special issue. Topics may include, but are not limited to the following:
How can organizations support workers across the lifespan to enhance their ability and desire to continue to work? What are underlying processes and boundary conditions?
What are sources of age bias and discrimination, what are their consequences, and how can these be mitigated?
How can organizations better support and utilize the strengths of older workers?
How can organizations and societies support more vulnerable workers who must continue to work beyond their desired retirement age?
How effective are interventions designed to support workers of different ages? What are the consequences of these interventions for older versus younger workers?
What is the role of HR practices for supporting workers and sustaining their careers across the lifespan?
How can organizations best design workplace training and development opportunities to update skills and retrain older workers?
What is the role of (older) workers themselves in sustaining their careers across the lifespan? How do (older) workers self-regulate to be able and motivated to continue to work?
What are the underlying mechanisms that explain age-related changes in worker attitudes, performance, behavior, and well-being across the lifespan?
How can work be redesigned to support older workers?
What are the consequences of aging for different groups of older workers (e.g., men and women; different ethnic groups)? How do different groups of older workers deal with the aging process at work? Which subgroups of older workers can be distinguished based on aging trajectories?
How can employers manage age diversity at work? What is the role of inclusive HRM in mitigating negative effects or strengthening positive effects of age diversity?
Which factors lead to worker retirement or labor force participation after retirement and well-being during retirement? What are the roles of contextual factors (e.g., job design, (HR) policies, societal pressures) as well as workers themselves?
How can successful aging at work be operationalized, and which multilevel factors (e.g., self-efficacy, leadership, organizational climate) and self-regulation behaviors are associated with stability in addition to recovery (i.e., short-term growth) in relevant worker outcomes? What is the role of person-environment fit in successful aging at work?
Submission Process and Timeline
To be considered for the Special Issue, manuscripts must be submitted between August 1 and October 1, 2020 by 8:00pm U.S. Eastern Standard Time. During this period, papers will be reviewed on an ongoing, rolling basis. Papers for this Special Issue cannot be submitted prior to August 1, 2020. Submitted papers will undergo a double-blind review process and will be evaluated by at least two reviewers and a special issue editor. Final acceptance is contingent on the review team’s judgments of the paper’s contributions on four key dimensions:
Theoretical contribution: Does the article offer new and innovative ideas and insights or meaningfully extend existing theory
Empirical contribution: Does the article offer new and unique findings, and are the study design, data analysis, and results rigorous and appropriate in testing the hypotheses or examining the research questions?
Practical contribution: Does the article contribute to the improved management of people in organizations?
Contribution to the special issue topic. Does the article contribute to the age in the workplace literature by explaining worker aging and age diversity within the bounds of organizations?
Authors should prepare their manuscripts for blind review according to the directions provided in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). Formatting guidelines are also provided on Personnel Psychology’s website, under “author guidelines”: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/(ISSN)1744-6570. Be sure to remove any information that may potentially reveal the identity of the authors to the review team.
Aiyar, S., Ebeke, C., & Shao, X. (2016). The Impact of Workforce Aging on European Productivity. IMF Working Paper No. 16/238, International Monetary Fund, Washington, DC.
Boehm, S. A., Kunze, F., & Bruch, H. (2014). Spotlight on age‐diversity climate: The impact of age‐inclusive HR practices on firm‐level outcomes. Personnel Psychology, 67, 667-704.
Kunze, F., & Boehm, S. A. (2013). Research on age diversity in the workforce: Current trends and future research directions. In J. Field, R. J. Burke, & C. L. Cooper (Eds.). The Sage handbook on aging, work, and society (pp. 41–58). London: Sage Publications.
Truxillo, D. M., Cadiz, D. E., & Hammer, L. B. (2015). Supporting the aging workforce: A review and recommendations for workplace intervention research. Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 2, 351-381.
United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (2017). Employment projections 2016-2026. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved from: https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/ecopro.pdf.
Zacher, H., Kooij, D.T.A.M., & Beier, M. (2018). Special issue: Successful aging at work: Empirical and methodological advancements, Work, Aging and Retirement, 4, 123–128.