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Coping with the challenge of an ageing workforce?

Dont worry, engaged employees provide sustainable


employability

Master thesis Human Resources Studies


Author: Marijn van IJsel Smits, U1236179

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. M.J.D. Schalk


Second assessor: Prof. Dr. R.F. Poell

Principal: AWVN

Period: January 2011 November 2011

Theme: Older workers motivation to continue working


Abstract

Currently, ageing and the raise of the retirement age is a hot topic in consulting firms.
However, the important role engagement can play in this development has rarely been
studied. The aim of this study was to examine whether the perceived HR practices, described
in this study, with a focus on older workers were related to the intention to continue to work
and whether this relation was mediated by engagement. This study was carried out in
collaboration with AWVN (Algemene Werkgevers Vereniging Nederland - general employers
association of The Netherlands). A questionnaire was completed by 296 older employees
(50+) working in three organizations (all three members of AWVN). The questionnaire
gathered data of perceived HR practices, the intention to continue to work, engagement,
satisfaction and commitment on the individual level. Multiple hierarchical regression
analysis was used to test the hypotheses. Results indicated that all hypotheses were
confirmed. Perceived HR practices were positively related with engagement and the
intention to continue working. Also a positive relation between engagement and this
intention was found. Moreover, a significant mediation effect of engagement was found
which fully explained the relation between perceived HR practices and the intention to
continue to work.

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Table of Contents

Introduction ................................................................................................................................4
Theoretical framework ...............................................................................................................6
HR practices............................................................................................................................6
Intention to continue to work ................................................................................................8
Relation between HR practices and the intention to continue to work ................................8
Engagement ...........................................................................................................................9
Satisfaction .......................................................................................................................... 10
Commitment ....................................................................................................................... 10
Relation between HR practices and employee attitudes: engagement, satisfaction and
commitment........................................................................................................................ 11
Relation between employee attitudes: engagement, satisfaction, commitment and the
intention to continue to work ............................................................................................. 12
Conceptual model ............................................................................................................... 13
Method .................................................................................................................................... 14
Research design .................................................................................................................. 14
Description of participating organizations .......................................................................... 14
Description of sample ......................................................................................................... 14
Instruments ......................................................................................................................... 16
Procedure ............................................................................................................................ 19
Statistical analysis ............................................................................................................... 19
Results ..................................................................................................................................... 20
Descriptive statistics ........................................................................................................... 20
Test of hypotheses .............................................................................................................. 21
Mediation effect.................................................................................................................. 23
Additional analyses ............................................................................................................. 24
Conclusion and discussion ....................................................................................................... 27
Additional analyses ............................................................................................................. 28
Study limitations ................................................................................................................. 29
Practical implications .......................................................................................................... 31
Literature ................................................................................................................................. 33
Appendices .............................................................................................................................. 38
Appendix A: Scales .............................................................................................................. 39
Appendix B: Results of Multiple Regression ....................................................................... 42

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Introduction

In the upcoming years, The Netherlands will be ageing in doubled pace. Between
2011 and 2015 the number of 65 year olds will increase up to half a million people. The
potential workforce of 20 to 65 year olds now numbers 10 million people but will decline
with 0,8 million until 2040. The higher the age of employees retiring, the more limited the
decrease of the workforce will be (CBS, 2010). The decrease in workforce and the increase of
life expectancy (CBS, 2010) combined lead to an ageing population. The ageing phenomenon
clearly does not affect The Netherlands alone, but workforces across the Western world are
ageing (OECD, 2006). Between 2000 and 2006 the average retirement age in The
Netherlands was 61. This increased to 62 in 2007 after the introduction of a new law in 2006
regarding pension regulations (CBS, 2010). Further legal changes will be introduced in The
Netherlands to increase the actual retirement age (Rijksoverheid, Ministerie SZW, 2011). The
current pension agreement (De Stichting van de Arbeid, 2011) states that the retirement age
increases will be linked to future increases of life expectancy. As a result, by 2025 the
retirement age will have increased to 67. The prolongation of working life also implies a
change in the composition of the workforce. When an increasing part of the workforce
consists of older employees, an organization can no longer avoid strategic workforce
planning and is obliged to adjust its policy. Moreover, the new policy (De Stichting van de
Arbeid, 2011) now states that in Collective Labor Agreements (CAO's) and labor
organizations concrete measures must be taken to promote the participation and the
sustainable employability of older employees. However, as the Pension Agreement (De
Stichting van de Arbeid, 2011) does not specify how to do this, it will be a challenge for
companies how to motivate older employees to work longer. These older employees must
remain willing to do so as well as feeling comfortable in remaining a part of the workforce.
Considering these arguments, it seems appropriate to study how the desire of older
employees to continue working can be influenced. In this research we look into the role
human resources (HR) practices might play. HR practice is the actual behaviour of
management based on a policy standard (Boxall & Purcell, 2008). Through HR activities,
organizations are able to provide employees with resources and therefore influence their
feelings of commitment, obligation and also possibly their engagement (Cropanzano &
Mitchell, 2005). The following research question has been formulated to further investigate
the relations between perceived HR practices, engagement and the intention to continue to
work: Is there a positive relation between perceived HR practices and the intention of older
employees to continue working and is this relation mediated by the employees engagement?

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The interaction between resources provided by the employer and the feeling of the
employee to do something in return is supported by the Social Exchange Theory (SET), as
this theory explains the interdependency between the employer and the employee. From
this perspective, HR resources (or practices) might be related to employee engagement.
Considering the finding that HR practices focused on older workers, are related to
employees outcomes (Kooij, 2010), it is reasonable to believe that there might also be a
direct relation between HR practices and the intention to continue to work. The positive
relation between engagement and remaining in work is argued by Harter, Schmidt and
Hayes (2002). Also, considering that employee engagement corresponds to being energetic,
dedicated and absorbed into the work, it follows that an employee is not inclined to leave
after investing many resources into work (de Lange, de Witte & Notelaers, 2008).

It has been argued that the needs of employees vary with age (Rhodes, 1983). Kooij
(2010) has used this knowledge and distinguished four different HR bundles with practices
focused on older employees. This study will use these newly bundled practices because it is
interested in the intention of older employees to continue working. Kooij, Jansen, Dikkers
and de Lange (2009) found that the relationship of maintenance HR practices with
commitment and satisfaction strengthen as an individual ages and that the relationship of
development HR practices with commitment and satisfaction weaken as an individual ages.
Commitment and satisfaction are worker attitudes with antecedents and consequences
similar to engagement (Hallberg & Schaufeli, 2006; Saks, 2006). Commitment and
satisfaction are also included in this study because of their close relation with engagement
(Saks, 2006), however the main focus remains on engagement.
Recognizing the important relevance for organizations to stimulate the willingness of
older employees to continue working, this research investigates whether this intention is
related to engagement and the use of HR practices. Kooij, de Lange, Jansen and Dikkers
(2008) suggested that ageing causes the relevance of researching the motivation to continue
working instead of the motivation to just work. However, little is known about the effect of
the newly bundled HR practices focused on older workers in order to keep them willing to
remain working (Kooij, 2010). Saks (2006) suggested further research on the potential
important relationship between HR practices and engagement and to what extent the HR
interventions stimulate employees to reciprocate with higher levels of engagement. The
concept of HR practices has been researched (Huselid, 1995; Kooij, 2010), as has
engagement (Schaufeli, Salanova, Gonzlez-Rom and Bakker, 2002; Saks, 2006) but these
specific variables in combination with the willingness to continue to work form a new area of
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study. Moreover, the mediating role of engagement in this specific combination is barely
highlighted. Yet in this research it will receive great emphasis as it might be able to explain
the process of social exchanges between employer and employee. This in turn explains
individual decisions for exchange, which is suggested as a further investigation by
Cropanzano and Mitchell (2005) as it has been researched very little.

The research focus is on the older employee, from the age of 50. Since 50 is being
used as a cut-off point to distinguish older from younger employees (Shacklock, Brunetto &
Nelson, 2009; West, Nicholson, Rees, 1990; Kooij, 2010) this study decided, in consultation
with AWVN, to define older employees as employees who are at least 50. Also the HR
practices used in this study especially target older employees. This study aims to gain insight
in the relations between perceived HR practices and engagement and its relation with the
willingness to continue to work. This will be investigated in the following theoretical
framework.

Theoretical framework

HR practices
Human Resource Management (HRM) refers to all those activities associated with
the management of work and people in firms and in other formal organizations (Boxall &
Purcell, 2008, p. 1). HRM is operationalized by HR policy and converted into HR practices. To
recapitulate, an HR practice is the actual behaviour of management based on a policy
standard (Boxall & Purcell, 2008). HRM activities (e.g. HR practices) are related to
organizational performance directly (Delery & Doty, 1996) and indirectly via HRM outcomes
such as satisfaction, motivation, involvement and commitment (Paauwe & Richardson, 1997).
However, since most studies being cross-sectional the causality of this relation cannot
properly be inferred (Boselie, Dietz & Boon, 2005).
Kooij (2010) classifies HR practices into new HR bundles on a theoretical basis, which
focus on the motivation of older workers to continue to work. Four categories were
identified with common goals for the separate practices. The four bundles match with the
four life goals: growth, maintenance, recovery and regulation of loss as distinguished by
Baltes, Staudinger and Lindenberger (1999) in the theory of Selection Optimization and
Compensation (SOC). First, there are HR development practices (e.g. training and promotion)
which stimulate personal grow of individual employees and which help them to achieve
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higher levels of performance in their jobs. Second, maintenance practices (e.g. job security
and flexible work schedules) offer support to keep up the same level of functioning in new
situations and challenges. Third, utilization practices (e.g. lateral job movement and task
enrichment) help individual workers to return to their previous level of functioning after a
loss, for example in physical capacity. And finally, accommodative practices (e.g. demotion
and less demanding tasks) help employees to regulate their loss in order to enable good
functioning at a lower level when maintenance or recovery is no longer possible (Kooij,
2010). The before mentioned bundles are shown in figure 1. As the focus of this study
concerns older employees, the definition of HR practices in this study includes the four
bundles with development, maintenance, utilization and accommodative practices. The
number of these HR practices available in an organization indicates the presence of an older
employee policy.
Development Maintenance Utilization Accommodation
Career planning Compressed working week Sideways job movement Part-time work
Continuous on-the- Performance Pay Task enrichment Additional leave
job development
Regular training Flexible benefits Reduced workload Exemption from
overtime working
Promotion Ergonomic adjustments Second career Semi-retirement
Performance appraisals Participation in decision- Early retirement
making
The New World of Work Reintegration schemes Long career break
Employment model of Demotion
choice
Figure 1. Four bundles of HR practices focused on older employees (Kooij, 2010)

Worker attitudes such as commitment, engagement and satisfaction are influenced


more by the workers perception of the provided HR practices, than simply by counting the
introduced practices (Huselid, 1995; Edgar & Geare 2005). Therefore, in this study the
perception of the employees about the provided HR practices is used to measure the
relations.
It could be possible that an employee who is more engaged, committed and satisfied
also shows more interest to see the HR practices. However, this study has chosen to
measure perception instead of actual practices. The reason is that if one is not aware of an
actual practice this practice is not able to influence the employees work attitude.

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Intention to continue to work
Shacklock et al., (2009) define the motivation to continue to work in their study as
an older workers desire or intention to continue to work. As in this study we examine the
willingness of an older worker to continue working, our concept is similar. There are several
theories on the concept of motivation (Maslow, 1943; McGregor, 1960; Herzberg, 1966).
However, there is not yet a theory specifically concerning the extension of the working
period. This requires, under the current developments, further empirical research. Therefore
in this research the definition of the intention to continue to work is based on the work of
Shacklock et al., (2009).
To somewhat explore more this variable, this study also investigates the motives of
an employee to work. Maslows theory (1943) about work motivation gives more insight in
the understanding of employees motives to work by explaining different levels of personal
need. Maslow argued that these needs contribute to human motivation and can be
hierarchically classified from basic (low) to complex (high). The most important motivator
of peoples behaviour in any given context is their lowest level of unsatisfied need (Haslam,
2004, p. 62). Work motives will be investigated in the additional analyses.

Relation between HR practices and the intention to continue to work


Numerous studies have investigated the indirect effect of HR practices on employees
outcomes, including the intention to continue to work (Armstrong-Stassen and Ursel, 2009;
Kooij, 2010). However, a direct positive relation between HR practices focused on older
employees and the willingness to continue working was found by Kooij (2010). Kooij (2010)
states that even though older workers are often not interested in following a new education,
development practices appear to be positively related to the motivation to continue to work
as these employees feel appreciated and recognized. The maintenance practices do not
relate to the older workers motivation to continue to work as these practices are likely to be
taken for granted and not appreciated as an extra effort of the organization (Kooij, 2010). De
Lange et al. (2008) found that a low number of job resources appear to be predictive of the
intention to quit working. Both job resources and HR practices (Bakker & Demerouti, 2006)
refer to individual and organizational aspects with similar goals (e.g. reduce job demands,
stimulate personal growth and support the achievement of work goals). Therefore the
meaning of these two concepts in this study is interchangeable.
Variables which were important to positively influence the intention to continue to work
were among others investigated by Shacklock et al., (2009) who found three work-related
variables. These variables include interests outside of work such as family, friends, spiritual

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development and hobbies, the relative importance of work, and flexible arrangements. In
line with the above mentioned arguments also Armstrong-Stassen and Ursel (2009) found
that training and development opportunities targeting older workers (e.g. update or acquire
knowledge and skills with emphasis on self-paced learning and hands-on learning) positively
influence the intention to continue working, through perceived organizational support
(POS). POS was also found to increase the intention to remain working directly.

By combining these arguments, it would be interesting to start this study by studying the
direct relation between perceived HR practices and employees intention to continue
working. The number of HR practices available in an organization indicates the focus on an
older employee policy and therefore hypothesis 1 is formulated as follows:

Hypothesis 1: There is a positive relation between the number of HR practices perceived


by the employee and the intention to continue to work.

As the research question (page 4) suggests this study is, in addition to the relation
between perceived HR practices and the intention to continue to work, also interested in the
mediating role of engagement.

Engagement
Engagement is recurrently defined as positive work behavior consisting of three
elements, namely vigor, dedication and absorption. Vigor relates to high levels of work
energy. Dedication is related to enthusiasm, pride and challenge, where a dedicated person
feels identified with the work. And finally, absorption whereby a person is fully concentrated
and included in ones work which makes it difficult for them to detach from it (Schaufeli et al.,
2002).
Engagement derives its popularity from its positive organizational consequences.
Saks (2006) found in his research that job and organization engagement predict job
satisfaction, organizational commitment, organizational citizenship behavior and that it has a
negative relation with the intention to quit. Also, Harter et al. (2002) found that employee
engagement is positively related to business-unit outcomes such as productivity and
profitability.
Besides engagement there are other concepts which represent the positive relation
between the employee and the work. The concept of engagement not only refers to high
levels of energy but also to the degree of involvement and commitment, therefore Hallberg

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and Schaufeli (2006) studied whether these aspects of work attachment can be empirically
separated. They clearly found three different constructs implying that engagement is indeed
a unique concept. Because of its frequent use, this study also defines engagement with its
three elements of vigor, dedication and absorption.

However, literature indicates a close relation with satisfaction and commitment as


mediating factors (Finegold, Mohrman and Spreitzer, 2002; Conway, 2004; Kooij et al., 2009)
and therefore these variables will be included in order to provide a complete investigation
into this relation.

Satisfaction
Job satisfaction can be defined as the level to which employees see their
membership with an organization as positive and affective (Price, 1997). The satisfaction of
employees is largely influenced by the relationship between the employer and the employee
(Koch & de Kok, 1999). Job satisfaction is often related to behaviours and outcomes which
can lead to organizational and personal well-being (Spector, 1997) and therefore receives a
great amount of attention.

Commitment
Organizational commitment can be defined generally as a psychological link between
the employee and his or her organization that makes it less likely that the employee will
voluntarily leave the organization (Allen & Meyer 1996, p. 252). Committed employees
identify their own goals and desires with those of the organization. Consequently their
investment and contribution leads to the accomplishment of the organizational goals
(Mowday, Steers, Porter, 1979). These beneficial outcomes of committed employees such
as organizational citizenship behaviour (Organ, 1989) are naturally desired by an
organization.

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Relation between HR practices and employee attitudes: engagement, satisfaction and
commitment
As there does not seem to be much empirical evidence which assesses the
relationships between HR practices explicitly and engagement it seems appropriate to take a
closer look at the (mechanisms of the) Social Exchange Theory (SET). Different researchers
have agreed upon the explanation of SET as a social exchange relation in which the behavior
of an employee or an employer is coherent with the reactions and behaviors of the other
party and results in mutual positive transactions and relationships (Cropanzano & Mitchell,
2005). Social exchange relationships evolve when employers take care of employees
which thereby engenders beneficial consequences (such as effective work behavior and
positive employee attitudes) (Cropanzano & Mitchell 2005, p. 882). For example, when an
employer provides its employees with resources, employees are likely to respond with
positive behavior. In the exchange theory there is interdependence between both parties
which makes the relation reciprocal. One can assume that organizations that provide more
resources (e.g. support) stimulate their employees to feel obliged to do something in return
and as a result become more engaged (Saks, 2006; Cropanzano & Mitchell, 2005).
HR practices are positively related to an employees work attitude such as the
employees degree of involvement, trust and loyalty (Paauwe & Richardson, 1997). Even
though engagement is found to be a unique construct, engagement is often compared and
taken together in research with other employee attitudes such as commitment, satisfaction
and involvement (Hallberg& Schaufeli, 2006). Also, the work attitudes commitment and
satisfaction are found to be outcomes of engagement (Saks, 2006). As there exist no direct
evidence of the relation between HR practices and engagement it seems appropriate to look
at the results of studies which have investigated the relations between HR practices and
similar attitudes. Relations have been found between HR practices and commitment,
satisfaction and turnover intention and it was examined whether these relationships differed
in different career stages (Finegold et al., 2002; Conway, 2004; Kooij et al., 2009). The
desires of employees under 30 differ from older employees; they value their satisfaction
with skill development and salary more than their older colleagues as a condition to stay
with the organization (Finegold et al., 2002). It is suggested that the provided HR practices
should be adapted to the age of the individual worker as a result of their changing needs
(Kooij et al., 2009). They found in their study that the relationship of maintenance HR
practices with commitment and satisfaction strengthen as an individual ages and that the
relationship of development HR practices with commitment and satisfaction weaken as an
individual ages.

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Job resources, such as support from supervisors and colleagues, feedback on work
performance, training and job rotation appear to have a positive relation with engagement
(Schaufeli & Bakker, 2004; Demerouti, Bakker, Nachreiner and schaufeli, 2001). According to
the above mentioned arguments, the following hypothesis is formulated:

Hypothesis 2: There is a positive relation between the number of HR practices perceived


by the employee and the engagement of the employee.

Relation between employee attitudes: engagement, satisfaction, commitment and the


intention to continue to work
Ageing reinforces the importance of the motivation to continue to work in
comparison with just the motivation to work (Kooij et al., 2008). Employee engagement and
satisfaction are positively related to employee retention (Harter et al., 2002). However,
more academic work and studies have been undertaken to discover why employees want to
quit working than examinations of evidence of why employees are motivated to continue
working (Shacklock et al., 2009). Only a few studies have researched which variables are
important for the motivation to continue working (Armstrong-Stassen & Ursel, 2009; Kooij,
2010; Hanisch & Hulin, 1990). Satisfaction with ones career can extend someones
willingness to continue working (Armstrong-Stassen & Ursel, 2009). As discussed previously
HR practices showed to be related with employee satisfaction, which makes it plausible that
career satisfaction also mediates the relation between HR practices and the intention to
continue to work. Besides, employees who feel satisfied with their work intend to work
longer, while less satisfied workers make choices to quit before the normal retirement age
(Hanisch and Hulin, 1990). As it is found that work-related attitudes influence the withdrawal
(e.g. intention to retire) behaviour of employees, it can be argued that engagement could be
related to the intention to continue working. Kooij (2010) found that motivation to continue
to work is positively related to the perceived availability of development, maintenance and
utilization HR bundles through job satisfaction and affective commitment. Though, three
age-related factors (calendar age, health and future time perspective) were negatively
related to motivation to continue to work.
An explanation of the relation between engagement and the intention to stay can be
found in a contrary variable, namely the intention to leave. Job and organization
engagement are negatively related to the intention to quit working (Saks, 2006). Also, de
Lange et al. (2008) argue that an engaged employee has invested a lot of vigor into his or her
job and feels identified and absorbed in ones job and is therefore reluctant to leave. They
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found that a low amount of resources and a low level of engagement are predictors of job
turnover because employees will be looking for alternatives which provide them with more
resources. As earlier explained in this study, job resources have similar positive effects like
HR practices (Bakker & Demerouti, 2006). Therefore one might assume arguments stated
above as support for hypothesis 3 in this research. To examine the significance of
engagement on older workers intention to continue to work, the following hypothesis is
formulated:
Hypothesis 3: There is a positive relation between the engagement of employees and
the intention of older workers to continue to work.

As an implication of the hypotheses 1, 2, and 3, a mediation effect of perceived HR practices


and the intention to continue to work via engagement is expected.
Hypothesis 4: The relationship of HR practices perceived by the employee and the
intention to continue to work is mediated by engagement.

Conceptual model
The variables investigated in this study are visualised in the figure below.

* Even though no hypotheses are pronounced concerning satisfaction and commitment, these
variables are included for the completeness of this study.

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Method

Research design
The conceptual model developed for this study was examined by testing four
hypotheses. This explanatory study had a cross-sectional design; the data from the
questionnaire were collected at one single moment in time. As the perception of the HR
practices, employee engagement, satisfaction, commitment and the intention to continue to
work were measured on the individual level, the individual employees were the unit of
analysis in this research.

Description of participating organizations


Organization one is an international company operating in more than 20 countries
across North America, South America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, with four locations
in The Netherlands. It is one of the world's largest integrated producers of polymers and
fibers, primarily for nylon, spandex and polyester applications which one can find in clothing,
carpets, cars, computers etc. Worldwide 70.000 employees are employed, however this
includes Koch Industries which Invista is part of. Invista Nederland employs 260 people.

Organization two is a Dutch bank-insurer with different labels for specific markets.
Each brand has its own specialty and expertise, therefore the organization offers a large
portfolio of different products and services with three core product groups: mortgages and
property finance, savings and investments and insurance and pensions. In total, 7500 people
are employed.

Organization three is a global leading independent provider of conditioned storage


facilities for bulk liquids. The organization has its headquarters in Rotterdam and operates in
31 countries worldwide, offering storage and transhipment solutions at 80 terminals on all
continents that connect the worlds major shipping lanes. It employs an international
workforce of more than 5,700 people.

Description of sample
This study was carried out in collaboration with AWVN (general employers
association of The Netherlands). This research took place among three of AWVNs
approximately 850 members, who voluntary participated in this research. All companies
affiliated to AWVN were informed about this research through their website/ newsletter and
invited to participate. Three companies wanted to participate. Data was collected amongst
employees older than 50 and who work in different functions and sectors. A combination of

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hardcopy questionnaires and a web-based questionnaire was used. A random sample of 413
employees was taken amongst the 50+ employees within the three organizations. In total
296 respondents completed the questionnaire which established a response rate of 71.7%.
Organization one distributed the questionnaire in hardcopy as well as digitally to all sixty 50+
employees. Six hardcopies and 30 web-based forms were returned. Organization two made
a random selection of their 1650 50+emplyees. 250 were selected and 176 returned the
web-based questionnaire. In organization three the questionnaire was only distributed in
hardcopies to all 50+ employees of three different divisions and departments (103
employees), 84 hardcopies were returned. After excluding the cases pairwise the total
sample of respondents who answered the data required for the specific analyses totalled to
N=296.
In table 1 gender, education, sector and the response rate of all the respondents are given.
In table 2 ages, job and organization tenure is presented. A larger number of men (79.7%)
participated in this study than women (20.3%) did. More than half (52.7%) of the sample had
a secondary (vocational) education and almost one third (29.9%) had an higher vocational
education. 43.4% worked in financial services, 19.6% worked in storage and transhipment
and 15.4% in the branch of industry. The age of the respondents ranged from 49 up to 74
years, with an average age of 56 years (SD=4). The average job tenure was 12.8 years (SD =
11.2) and the average organization tenure 25.9 years (SD = 11). Statements about the
representativeness of the sample cannot be made as the exact data of the population is
missing.

Table 1: Gender, education, sector and response rate of all the respondents
% of total respondents
Gender Man 79.7
Woman 20.3
Education Lower (vocational) education 9.9
Secondary (vocational) 52.7
education
Higher vocational education 29.9
University 7.5
Sector Financial services 43.4
Storage and transhipment 19.6
Industry 15.4
Response Rate Organization 1 60
Organization 2 70.4
Organization 3 81.6

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Table 2: Age, job and organization tenure
Minimum Maximum Mean Std. Deviation
Age 49 74 56 4
Job tenure .00 47 25.9 11
Organization tenure 1 43 12.8 11.2

Because data is collected in three different organizations and within these


organizations the respondents were working in different departments, the data was nested.
It was controlled whether the responses of the sample were not too much influenced by the
membership of an organization. The ICC (1) showed the amount of individual-level variance
that can be explained by such (organization) membership (Vossen, A.P.J.G., personal
communication, November 14, 2011). In Table 3 the ICC (1) scores are shown, the scores
appeared to be low which indicated that the scores of the respondents did not substantially
depend on the organization they worked for.

Table 3: ICC (1)-scores


ICC(1)
Perceived HR practices .074
Engagement -.008
Intention to continue to work .060

Instruments
To collect the data for this study a questionnaire composed of five scales (appendix
A), was used. Some control questions needed for this study were also included. The scales
were derived from existing scales used in other studies.

Intention to continue to work. This variable was measured with a three item scale
used and adjusted by Kooij (2010) and originally developed by Armstrong-Stassen (2008). An
example question was: If I were completely free to choose, I would prefer to continue
working. It should be noted that this question is related to the willingness to continue
working, irrespectively before or after the retirement age. Participants indicated their level
of agreement with a 5-point Likert scale ranging from strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree
(5). The validity of the scale appeared to be good as the eigenvalue and scree plot showed
one factor. A good level of reliability was reported, Cronbachs alpha is =0.912.

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Engagement. Engagement was measured by 17 items of the Utrecht Work
Engagement Scale (UWES; Schaufeli & Bakker, 2004). The items were divided into three
groups along the definition of engagement. Example questions are as follows: Vigor At my
work, I feel bursting with energy, dedication I am enthusiastic about my job, and
absorption I am immersed in my work. Participants answered with a 5-point Likert scale
ranging from strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (5). Originally the scale consists of 17
items but for this research a shortened version of the UWES was used (9 items). The internal
consistency of the shortened scale was very good, Crondbach alpha is =0.918. Schaufeli and
Bakker (2004) found that engagement could be equally measured one-dimensionally and
three-dimensionally but suggested to measure engagement one-dimensionally when the
study was focused on the total concept instead of the three separated concepts. In this
study the focus is on engagement as a whole since all the used literature examines
engagement also as one variable. Eigenvalue and scree plot showed that one factor explains
the content of engagement.
Satisfaction. Four questions from Price (1997) measured the concept of satisfaction
on a 5-point Likert scale (strongly disagree(1) strongly agree(5)). One of the items was:
Most of the time I am enthusiastic about my job. Two items of the scale were re-coded as
these were negatively worded. Eigenvalue and scree plot showed that one factor explains
the concept of satisfaction.The reliability of the scale was good, Cronbachs alpha is =0.813.
Commitment. To measure commitment the four-item scale developed by Cook and
Wall (1980) was used (e.g., I am proud to tell others whom I work for). Possible answers,
on a 5-point Likert scale, ranged from strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (5). One
component could be distinguished regarding the eigenvalue and scree plot. The reliability
(Cronbachs ) of this scale is 0.704.
HR practices perceived by the employee. The HR practices with focus on older
employees were measured in this study by a 24-item scale derived from the 21-item scale of
HR bundles developed by Kooij (2010). Three items have been added to the scale at the
request of AWVN. For the purpose of this study, items tapping the development,
maintenance, utilization and accommodative practices were used. The classification of these
bundles focusing on older workers was based upon the SOC-theory of Baltes et al. (1999).
The bundles were measured with questions such as: does your organization offer you
flexible benefits? for maintenance and does your company offer you regular training? for
development. Also, does your company offer you sideways job movement? for utilization
and does your company offer you semi-retirement? for accommodation. Participants had
to indicate whether these practices were present by answering with yes, I make use of this
17
practice(1), yes, practice is present and I could make use of it(2), yes, practice is present
but I cant make use of it(3), no, practice is not present(4), or dont know(5).The
breakdown of the answers into this 5-point scale was very useful for the participating
organizations. However, for the purpose of this study the answers were aggregated into yes
(1) and no (0). Yes exists of answer 1 and 2 of the extensive 5-point scale and no exists
of answer 3, 4 and 5. The decision to consider answer 3 as no is based on the
assumption that if a practice is not perceived as available to an employee, the employee
wont be able to get motivated from it. The total number of yes responses indicated to
what degree an organization offered, in the perception of the employee, HR practices
focused on older workers and thus whether a policy for older employees is present. This
study was not able to perform factor analysis for the four bundles of HR instruments
because the items in this scale did not have a continuous answer category. Despite the fact
that the four bundles development, maintenance, utilization and accommodation could not
be distinguished by four factors, they still will be considered as such. This decision is
supported by the acceptable reliability which was found of the four subscales. Crondbach
alpha is =0.70 for development with four items, Crondbach alpha is =0.67 for
maintenance with seven items, Crondbach alpha is =0.74 for utilization with six items and
Crondbach alpha is =0.65 for accommodation with seven items. Furthermore, previous
research used multiple fit indices (Comparative Fit Index, Non-Normed Fit Index, Goodness
of Fit Index and Root Mean Square Error of Approximation) to confirm a significant and good
fit in the four bundles (Kooij, 2010). However, the hypotheses were tested with the
complete scale and the complete scale reported a good reliability, Cronbachs alpha is
=0.862. Only the additional analyses were executed with the four separate subscales.
Control variables. Control variables were used to check whether the relations were
unintentionally influenced: age (measured in years), gender (male/female), adequacy of
total household income (ranging from (1) very easy to (5) very difficult), organization tenure
(measured in years), education (ranging from (1) a basic education to (4) a university degree),
sector (1 to 19) and organization (3 organizations). These aspects were measured
simultaneously in the same questionnaire. The needs of employees and their orientation
towards goals change with age. Kooij et al. (2009) therefore found that also their
appreciation of HR practices change. This change of needs in different life stages makes it
reasonable to believe that the relationship between HR practices and the dependent
variables differs with age. Tenure might influence someones commitment to the
organization and therefore lessen the intention to leave. Income might be crucial for an
employees necessity to continue to work (Shacklock et al., 2009). Higher educated people
18
might be more ambitious and involved with the work and therefore score higher on
engagement.

Procedure
A hardcopy and a web-based questionnaire were distributed among older workers
(50+) of the three organizations mentioned before. The organizations were approached
through AWVN, and the organizations randomly distributed the questionnaire among its
older employees. The distribution took place by email and through the direct supervisors
and the questionnaires were either returned online or to the HR Department. The
questionnaire took approximately 10 minutes to complete. The front page explained the
content and procedure of the questionnaire and guaranteed absolute anonymity.
Participants responded on voluntary basis to the questions about working life (appendix A).

Statistical analysis
To test hypothesis 1, the relation between perceived HR practices and the intention
to continue to work, hypothesis 2, the relation between perceived HR practices and
employees engagement, and hypothesis 3, the relation of employee engagement on
employees intention to continue to work, multiple regression was used. In order to examine
hypothesis 4, whether the mediation effect of engagement between perceived HR practices
and the intention to continue to work was significant, joint significance of the two relations
was measured and the Sobel test was performed.

19
Results

Descriptive statistics
Table 4 presents the means, standard deviations and correlations of the variables and the
control variables of this study. What is remarkable is the high organization tenure in years,
though this might be because respondents are people approaching the end of their career.
All the variables included in the conceptual model show significant correlations with one
another (p< .01). Perceived HR practices are significant positively correlated with
engagement, satisfaction, commitment and the intention to continue to work. Also
engagement, satisfaction and commitment show significant positive correlations with the
intention to continue working. Furthermore, the table shows two strong correlations. There
is a strong positive correlation between satisfaction and commitment (r=.572, p < .01) and
also a strong positive correlation can be found between engagement and satisfaction (r=.636,
p < .01).

Table 4: Means, standard deviations (SD) and Pearson correlations


Mean SD 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
1. Age 56.26 4.1
2.* Gender 1.2 0.4 0.024
3. Edu 2.35 0.76 0.087 -0.045
4. OrgTen 25.89 11 .188 -0.063 -.416
5. Income 3.73 0.77 0.106 0.082 0.11 0.079
6. D org1 .12 .33 -.152 -.008 -.118 .048 .096
7. D org3 .28 .45 -.277 -.223 -.237 .140 .116 -.234
8.* HRPrac 0.55 0.22 0.111 0.033 .283 -0.011 .197 -.133 -.177
9. Engage 3.58 0.62 0.019 0.065 -0.009 -0.014 0.063 -.043 .002 .247
10. Satisfac 3.99 0.64 -0.017 -0.012 -0.003 0.027 0.049 -.014 .028 .221 .636
11. Comm 3.79 0.55 -0.093 -0.035 -0.067 0.088 0.082 .029 .130 .174 .467 .572
12. Cont 3.13 1.06 .128 0.087 .120 -0.109 -0.058 .020 -.215 .193 .420 .266 .300
Work
Note: Edu, education; OrgTen, organization tenure; Income, adequacy of total household income; D org 1,
dummy 1 org 2 vs. org1; D org 3, dummy 2 org 2 vs. Org3; HRPrac, Perceived HR practices; Engage, engagement;
Satisfac, satisfaction; Comm, commitment; ContWork, intention to continue to work; p < .05, p < .01;
*measurement level is not continuously, therefore caution the interpretation of correlation coefficient

20
Test of hypotheses
Hierarchical multiple regression is used to test the hypotheses. In table 5, the
variables are entered in four steps in order to test hypotheses 1 and 3. Perceived HR
practices were entered in model 1 and engagement was added in model 2. In model 3
satisfaction and commitment are enclosed. For the completeness of this study a brief look is
taken into these variables because as mentioned before, satisfaction, commitment and
engagement often occur together as related variables in the literature. However, the
emphasis of this study remains on engagement. Finally, in model 4 the control variables age,
gender, education, adequacy of total household income and organisation were enclosed.
Sector is controlled for via Anova because the 19 different sectors would result in 18 dummy
variables which in turn would disrupt the ratio between number of respondents and number
of variables. It appeared that sector did not substantially affect the dependent variables
continue to work F(11, 148)= 1.277, p=.243 and engagement F(11,150)= 1.196, p=.295.
Model 2 showed a significant improvement ( R = .147, P>.001) with explaining 18.5% of
the variance in the willingness to continue working. Model 3 showed a non-significant
improvement which means that adding satisfaction and commitment have no effect in the
model and thus the estimated effect of engagement did not depend on satisfaction or
commitment. The control variables age, gender, education, income and organization were
included in the last step of the analysis to test whether the relationship between perceived
HR practices, engagement and the intention to continue to work was not the result of joint
dependence on other variables (spuriousness). After adding the control variables in model 4,
the model significantly explained a little more variance in the intention to continue working,
27,2% ( R = ,072 , p<,001). This means that there is some effect of organization in de
model, as organization being significant. Dummy 2 showed a significant difference between
organization two and three on the dependent variable continue to work. Yet, ICC (1) scores
in table 3 (page 16) showed very little differences (6%) on the intention to continue to work
in all three organizations. And, the effect of organization has only caused a small negative
effect on the strength of engagement (=.368, p<.001) in model 4 (table 5). Remarkable is
the large improvement in model 2 after including engagement. Therefore engagement is an
important variable in explaining most of the variance in the intention to continue working.

To address problems with multicollinearity, which might occur with highly correlated
independent variables, the Tolerance and VIF values were checked while running the
regression analyses. None of the independent variables violated the indicated values by
Pallant (2007). At first, hypotheses 1 and 3 are examined before hypotheses 2 is discussed,
21
as hypotheses 1 and 3 both concern the intention to continue to work (see table 5).
Hypotheses 1 stated a positive relation between the number of HR practices perceived by
the employee and the intention to continue to work. Data gave support (=.193, p<.01) and
therefore hypothesis 1 is confirmed. Hypotheses 3 stated a positive relation between the
engagement of employees and the intention of older workers to continue to work. The
relation with engagement was positive and significant (=.396, p<.001) and thus hypotheses
3 was confirmed. Also in this research high correlations between engagement, satisfaction
and commitment are shown (table 4). And besides engagement, also commitment showed a
significant relation with the intention to continue to work (=.154, p<.05). For this research
however, most important is that engagement remains significantly related to the intention
to continue working regardless the addition of satisfaction and commitment. The effect of
engagement slightly decreases (=.368, p<.001) but remains strong in model 3 and 4 (see
table 5), showing an independence of satisfaction, commitment and the control variables.
The descending effect of perceived HR practices on the intention to continue to work when
engagement is added to the model is interesting.

Table 5: Results of Hierarchical Multiple Regression


Dependent variable:
Continue Working Step 1 Step 2 Step 3 Step 4

Main effects
HR practices .193** .096 .092 .040
Engagement .396*** .377*** .368***
Satisfaction -.082 -.089
Commitment .154* .217**

Control variables
Age .094
Gender .043
Education .095
Income -.107
D org1 .011
D org 3 -.162**

R .037 .185 .200 .272


R change .037** .147*** .016 .072***

Note: *p < .05, **p < .01, ***p < .001; D org 1, dummy 1 org 2 vs. org1; D org 3, dummy 2 org 2 vs. Org3

22
Also for the second hypothesis multiple regression is used. In table 6 two models are
tested. Model 1 tested the relation between perceived HR practices and engagement and in
model 2 the control variables are included. The first model is significant ( R = .061, p>.001)
and explained 6.1% of the variance in engagement. The second model shows a non-
significant improvement and also none of the control variables have a significant individual
contribution.
Hypotheses 2 stated a positive relation between the number of HR practices
perceived by the employee and the engagement of the employee. The relation between
perceived HR practices and engagement is positive and significant (=.247, p<.001) and
therefore hypotheses 2 can be confirmed. Additionally, the control variables did not
influence the relation between perceived HR practices and engagement, the effect became
even stronger (=.280, p<.001).

Table 6: Results of Hierarchical Multiple Regression


Dependent variable:
Engagement Step 1 Step 2

Main effects
HR practices .247*** .280***

Control variables
Age .023
Gender .059
Education -.099
Organization tenure -.061
D org1 .003
D org3 .057

R .061 .075
R change .061*** .014

Note: *p < .05, **p < .01, ***p < .001; D org 1, dummy 1 org 2 vs. org1; D org 3, dummy 2 org 2 vs. Org3

Mediation effect
In order to assess whether the relationship of perceived HR practices and the
intention to continue to work is mediated by engagement (hypothesis 4), the procedure
recommended by MacKinnon, Fairchild, and Fritz (2007) is used. A mediating effect exists
when both included direct effects show significance. The direct effect of HR practices on
engagement and the direct effect of engagement on the intention to continue to work,
controlled for HR practices, showed a significant relation. Also, there is a significant relation

23
between HR practices and the intention to continue to work, however this relation is no
longer significant when controlled for engagement, which implies full mediation (MacKinnon
et al. 2007). In addition, the indirect effect is tested for significance with the Sobel test
(Baron & Kenny, 1986). The indirect effect was significant as the z-value of the mediation
effect of engagement between perceived HR practices and the intention to continue to work
was 3,48 (p<.001). The z-value is larger than 1,96 and therefore hypothesis 4 can be
confirmed, meaning that engagement fully mediates the relation between perceived HR
practices and the intention to continue to work.

Additional analyses
To test the hypotheses, in the abovementioned results the HR practices are
measured with all practices (items) in one variable. However, to recapitulate, this variable
could theoretically be divided into four bundles (Kooij, 2010). The items were classified to
their purpose of use by older employees. To specify the results of the previous analyses, this
section presents the correlations (Table 7) and the relation of each HR bundle separately
with the intention to continue to work (table 8) as well as with engagement (table 9). The
four bundles of perceived HR practices show significant correlations with one another
(p< .01). The development practices are significantly positively correlated with engagement,
satisfaction and commitment. The maintenance practices show a significant and positive
correlation with engagement, satisfaction and the intention to continue to work. The
utilization practices have significant correlations with all variables in the model and the
accommodation practices only show significant correlations with engagement and
satisfaction.
Table 7: Means, standard deviations (SD) and correlations
Mean SD 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
1. Dev .69 .32
2. Main .54 .24 .501**
3. Utiliza .46 .32 .620** .473**
4. Accomo .53 .26 .493** .488** .447**
5. Engage 3.58 .62 .251** .193** .230** .133*
6. Satisfac 3.99 .64 .251** .132* .196** .125* .636**
7. Comm 3.79 .55 .234** .015 .218** .096 .467** .572**
8. Cont 3.13 1.06 .114 .235** .180** .099 .420** .266** .300**
Work
Note: Dev, development; Main, maintenance; Utiliza, utilization; Accomo, accomodation; Engage, engagement;
Satisfac, satisfaction; Comm, commitment; ContWork, intention to continue to work; *p < .05, **p < .01

24
The relations between the separate bundles and the intention to continue to work
only showed a significant result with the HR maintenance bundle (=.223, p<.01) in table 8.
The HR bundles and employee engagement did not show any significant relations in table 9.
Though, there might be a small relation between the HR development bundle and
engagement since this effect is marginally significant (=.162, p=.06).

Table 8: Results of Multiple Regression


Dependent variable:
Continue working

HR Bundles
Development -.058
Maintenance .223**
Utilization .127
Accomodation -.038

Note: *: p < .05 (one-tailed), **: p < .01 (one-tailed)

Table 9: Results of Multiple Regression


Dependent variable:
Engagement

HR Bundles
Development .162
Maintenance .078
Utilization .107
Accomodation -.033

Note: *: p < .05 (one-tailed)

To further specify within the bundles and to show the separate relations with the HR
practices, appendix B shows the results of multiple regression. There are three separate
practices that show a significant relation with the intention to continue to work. Two are
maintenance practices, namely flexible benefits ( =.193, p=.017) and the new world of work
( =.189, p=.015). Additionally, one is a utilization practice, namely task enrichment ( =.196,
p=.020). There are two separate practices showing a significant positive relation with
engagement: The maintenance practice flexible benefits ( =.163, p=.040) and a
development practice career planning ( =.177, p=.035).

25
In order to give more insight in the variable willingness to continue to work, the
questionnaire included questions with possible reasons to continue working (based on the
Hierarchy of Needs of Maslow, 1943). Table 10 presents the rates of the reasons given to
continue to work by the respondents.

Table 10: Reasons to continue working


Indicated reasons to continue to work Rate
Financial compensation
17.7
Colleagues and social contacts
16.4
Desire to stay active and busy
15.9
The work is fun
14.8
Willingness to continue developing
9.9
Willingness to help others
9.4
Regularity of the pace of work
8.0
Valuation obtained by the work
7.9

26
Conclusion and discussion

This study was performed at three affiliated member companies of AWVN. 296
employees of the three organizations participated through an online and hardcopy
questionnaire. This study was aimed at investigating several relations with the intention of
older workers (50+) to continue to work and therefore the following research question was
proposed: Is there a positive relation between perceived HR practices and the intention of
older employees to continue working and is this relation mediated by the employees
engagement? Results showed evidence for all four supposed hypotheses. Consistent with
the work of Kooij (2010), the results of this study show that the number of HR practices
perceived by the employee and the intention to continue to work are positively related. Also,
the positive relation between the number of perceived HR practices and employee
engagement is supported by this research and is in line with the Social Exchange Theory
(Cropanzano & Mitchell, 2005) stating that providing more resources stimulates employees
to reciprocate with positive behaviour. It was also found that engagement was positively
related to the intention to continue working. A consistent finding with the research of Harter
et al,. (2002) and research into the intention to terminate working (Saks, 2006; Lange et al.,
2008). Furthermore, full mediation was found which implies that perceived HR practices are
no longer related to the willingness to continue working when engagement is controlled for,
as engagement now fully explains this relation. Despite the positive and significant relation
between perceived HR practices and the intention to continue to work (=.193 , p<.01) the
relation is however quite small. So while Delery and Doty (1996) suggest in the universalistic
approach that HR practices are universally practicable to be successful and the linear
relationship between HR practices and performance, this study finds a rather small effect of
the HR practices. An acceptable explanation could be found in recent research from
Shacklock and Brunetto (2011) in which it is argued that the intention of older employees
(born between 1946-1964) to continue working is related to five variables. Significant
relations were found between the intention to continue to work and work-family conflict,
perceptions of autonomy, attachment to work, interpersonal relationships and the
importance of working. The research included 900 hospital nurses employed across four
states of Australia. Also a recent research from Hay Group (2011) argued that leadership
style influences the work climate and a de-motivating work climate leads to the intention to
terminate working, absenteeism and decreasing performance. The estimation of situations
and the ability to vary and adjust the leadership style is essential to generate a good work
climate (Hay Group, 2011). This argument is backed up with the finding that the intention to

27
remain employed is influenced by the relationship with and support from ones manager
(Tourangeau, Cummings, Cranley, Ferron & Harvey, 2009). Taken together the above
mentioned arguments, it is likely to assume that just the accumulation of HR practices alone
will not be enough for the motivation to remain working.

Additional analyses
In the additional analyses the separate relations of the HR bundles were measured.
Results show only one significant relation, the relation between the maintenance HR bundle
and the intention to continue to work (=.223, p<.01). This finding is contrary to the findings
of earlier studies which found that particularly the perception of training and development
practices focused on older workers were positively related to the intention to continue
working. However these were indirect effects via POS (Shacklock et al., 2009) and via
affective commitment (Kooij, 2010). Yet, these results show more similarity with the findings
of Freund (2006) who found a difference in goal focus between age groups. Younger adults
focus on optimization and growth whereas older adults are directed towards prevention of
loss and compensation. As this research is held amongst older employees, the non-
significant relation with the development HR bundle might be explained. Another
explanation could be found in the SOC theory of Baltes et al. (1999) which is used for the
distinction of the HR bundles in this study. An implication of this theory is that growth
resources decrease with age and maintenance resources increase with age. Following this
theory, the personal resources of an older person are likely to match the maintenance HR
practices.
Flexible benefits ( =.193, p=.017), the new world of work ( =.189, p=.015) and task
enrichment ( =.196, p=.020) are the separate HR practices that showed a significant
relation with the intention to continue to work (see appendix B). Flexible benefits ( =.163,
p=.040) and career planning ( =.177, p=.035) are significantly related to engagement (see
appendix B). As the number of significant separate HR practices is rather small, it might be
assigned to the missing strength of a combined effect as explained by Duffy (1995, as cited in
Guest, Conway & Dewe, 2004) stating that multiple practices together provide a stronger
effect. Flexible benefits were previously found to positively influence the intention to
continue to work as a work-related variable (Shacklock et al., 2009). What is remarkable is
that it are mostly the personalized practices, where there is room for the individual to
choose, that show significant relations.

28
It is not only a question of whether older workers want to continue to work what is
being investigated in this research, but also their motives for doing so that were explored.
Maslows theory about work motivation gives more insight in the understanding of
employees motives to work by explaining different levels of personal need (Maslow, 1943).
Results show that the greatest motivator to continue to work (financial compensation 17,7%)
is a physiological need. And next, colleagues and social contacts 16,4% and desire to stay
active and busy 15,9% are needs for safety and love. Despite the assumption that employees
in this modern society, where physiological needs (e.g. salary) have been fulfilled, are mostly
motivated by higher- level needs like needs for esteem and self-actualisation needs (Haslam,
2004), results show different. The results of this study can be strengthened with the
argument that pay can be considered as one of the most important factors in motivating
employee behavior (Gerhart & Rynes, 2003).

Study limitations
The results of this study should be considered in light of its limitations. A weakness
of this study is that all concepts were measured through one questionnaire, a cross-sectional
design. This makes the causal order of the proposed hypotheses questionable. One could
argue that the intention to continue working is not likely to influence the number of HR
practices an organization offers. However, it is not the actual practices but the perception of
the employees about the practices that is measured. So what is the direction of the causal
arrow if someone being more engaged also shows more interest to see the HR practices?
What might occur is the so-called halo-effect (Kaplan & Saccuzzo, 2001). When people
have the intention to continue to work they might be positive about their employer and as a
result tend to answer the questions more positively than the reality is. To overcome the
indistinctiveness of causality or even reversed causality and the halo-effect future research is
recommended to use a longitudinal research design.
A second limitation is the variable continue to work that can be considered as
marginally measured. The variable is measured one dimensionally, in a very straightforward
way with three similar questions. To get more information about this subject in order to
draw interesting conclusions the variable could have been more explored. A suggestion is
therefore to consider multiple dimensions of the variable. However, the motives to continue
to work have been investigated, good reliability was reported and factor analyses showed
one component.
A final limitation is the allocation of various practices into the HR bundles. The four
HR bundles are based on earlier research (Kooij, 2010) however there is no set definition of

29
which practices belong to which bundle as there is no accepted theory that classifies
different practices into certain motivating or hygiene bundles (Boselie et al., 2005). The level
of measurement of the HR practices did not allow performing factor analyses; it would
violate the conditions for factor analyses in doing so. Therefore this study indicated the
reliability of the subscales. This method is not ideal to distinguish the four HR bundles,
especially taking into account the dichotomous character of the of the response scale. The
dichotomous scale also causes careful interpretation of the regression analyses with the HR
practices. Yet within the context of this study the method is acceptable. Considering that a
different grouping of HR bundles could lead to different results, it is highly recommended for
further research to use items of a continuous character (e.g. Likert scale) to be able to
perform factor analysis and define the bundles.

Theoretical implications and avenues for further research


In order to validate the results of this study more research is recommended. Besides
the recommendations for a different approach of investigation there are also some
suggestions for further research based on scientific relevance. As this research obeyed the
call for more research into the relations with HR bundles focusing on older workers (Kooij,
2010), it found one bundle of maintenance HR practices to be significantly related to the
intention to continue to work. More research is still suggested to find out which other HR
practices do truly relate to the intention to continue to work.
Flexible benefits, the new world of work and career planning showed significant and
positive relations with engagement and the intention to stay. These practices have their
personalized character in common so it seems important to employees to have the
possibility to choose and to adjust instruments to their personal situation. Keeping this
finding in mind, more research is suggested, looking into the individualized practices.
This study acknowledges the problem of ageing and therefore contributed to the
suggestion of Kooij et al. (2008) to look into the intention of older workers to continue to
work instead of the motivation to just work. It appeared that this intention is related to
perceived HR practices and engagement. Furthermore this study found that financial
compensation, colleagues and social contacts and the desire to stay active and busy are
motives that might make employees want to continue working. Even though there are many
theories regarding motivation (Maslow, 1943; McGregor, 1960; Herzberg, 1966), theories or
models explaining the motivation to continue to work are still heavily underexposed
(Shacklock et al., 2009) therefore new motivational theories have to be developed with a
focus on the prolongation of working life.
30
Saks (2006) and Cropanzano and Mitchell (2005) proposed more research about the
mechanisms of engagement and its role in the social exchange process. The mediation effect
of engagement in the relation between perceived HR practices and the intention to continue
working is newly added to the existing literature and showed to be an important mediator in
this relation. As engagement appears to play such an important role in the intention to
continue to work this study has shown that it is important to further investigate how to
accomplish employee engagement. For example, what other instruments can be used and
does their relation with engagement depend on situational factors, other variables or
leadership styles, as suggested by Shacklock and Brunetto (2011) and Hay Group (2011).
Additionally, there might be other important mediators in the relation between HR practices
and the intention to continue to work.
Moreover, given the social developments, the motivation to continue to work will
become heavily important and it is certain that organizations will have to respond to that. It
is not only a question of remaining loyal to the organization, likewise is the intrinsic
motivation from the work itself which plays a more prominent role as employability
becomes more important than job security (Vreugdenhil, D., personal communication,
October 12, 2011). More emphasis can be placed on meaningful work instead of
organization satisfaction or commitment. Questions that arise are, in which ways is the
employer able to keep the work itself interesting? And how does the employer influence
the mental willingness to continue with the work? This is because only the financial
incentive will not be sufficient.
This study is a good start in investigating potential solutions to the ageing problem
as it found a relation between perceived HR practices and engagement; however in the
coming decades the problems will become so substantial that it will seem appropriate to
investigate what else may contribute to the motivation to continue to work.

Practical implications
Ageing has caused a large development in HR policies concerning older workers. This
study is very important to all Dutch organizations formulizing their strategy towards future
changes in the retirement age, adjustments in CAO setup and other ageing issues.
In order to make employees willing to continue to work, several relations need to be
taken into consideration. The number of HR practices with a focus on older workers, and
mainly maintenance practices including job security and flexible work schedules, are related
to the desire to remain working. The maintenance bundle consists of seven practices,
namely compressed working week, performance pay, flexible benefits (e.g. the possibility to

31
buy or sell vacation days), ergonomic adjustments, performance appraisals, the new world
of work, and an employment model of choice. The new world of work, task enrichment and
flexible benefits were the instruments that showed a separate significant relation with the
intention to continue to work. It is recommended to consider these instruments for the
strategic workforce planning of an ageing conscious organization.
The relation between perceived HR practices and the intention to continue to work
is fully explained by the presence of engagement, whereas engagement is related to the
number of HR practices which stimulate the reciprocal function of the social exchange
theory (Cropanzano & Mitchell, 2005). Specific HR practices that showed a significant
relation with engagement are flexible benefits and career planning. Furthermore the bundle
with development practices (such as regular training, continuous on-the-job development,
career planning and promotion) showed a marginally significant (p=.06) relation with
engagement. This implies that these instruments might slightly be related to employee
engagement.
Moreover, the motives that employees in this study provide to stay part of the
workforce are, in order of significance: financial compensation, colleagues and social
contacts, desire to stay active and busy and because the work is fun. Organisations can
consider these motives to stay attractive to the employees to remain working.

Put together, these results suggest that if organizations want to work on the
sustainable employability of their employees, implementing certain HR practices might be
important but is not sufficient. Organizations need to be aware of the mediating role of
engagement which is important in the relation with the intention to continue to work.
Summarizing, it is essential for organizations to stimulate their employees to continue to
work and therefore to consider the focus on maintenance practices, their motives to do so
and the active implementation of career planning and flexible benefits which are related to
employee engagement.

32
Literature

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37
Appendices

38
Appendix A: Scales

Engagement. De volgende vragen gaan over hoe u tegen uw werk aankijkt en wat
uw opvattingen zijn daarover. Wilt u voor elke stelling aangeven in hoeverre u het
hier mee eens bent?
Helemaal Mee Neutraal Mee Helemaal
mee oneens eens mee
oneens eens
Als ik 's ochtends opsta heb ik zin om
aan het werk te gaan
Op mijn werk bruis ik van energie
Op mijn werk voel ik me fit en sterk
Ik ben enthousiast over mijn baan
Mijn werk inspireert mij
Wanneer ik heel intensief aan het
werk ben voel ik me gelukkig
Ik ga helemaal op in mijn werk
Ik ben trots op het werk dat ik doe
Mijn werk brengt me in verroering

Satisfaction. De volgende stellingen gaan over uw tevredenheid met het werk.


Helemaal Mee Neutraal Mee Helemaal
mee oneens eens mee
oneens eens
Ik ben niet gelukkig in mijn werk
Mijn werk verveelt me vaak
Meestal ben ik enthousiast over mijn
werk
Ik vind plezier in mijn baan

Commitment. De volgende stellingen gaan over uw betrokkenheid bij uw organisatie


Helemaal Mee Neutraal Mee Helemaal
mee oneens eens mee
oneens eens
Weten dat mijn werk heeft
bijgedragen tot het welzijn van de
organisatie, zou me plezier doen
Zelfs als deze organisatie het niet
goed zou doen, dan nog zou ik met
tegenzin van werkgever veranderen
Ik houd ervan me in te spannen voor
mijn werk, niet alleen voor mezelf,
maar ook voor de organisatie
Ik ben er trots op dat ik anderen kan
vertellen voor wie ik werk

39
HR practices. Hieronder staan verschillende personeelsregelingen, -instrumenten en
mogelijkheden die onderdeel uit kunnen maken van het personeelsbeleid. Wij vragen u per
regeling, instrument en/of mogelijkheid aan te geven (d.m.v. een kruisje) of deze aanwezig is
binnen uw organisatie, en of u daar gebruikt van maakt of gebruik van kunt maken?
Hr-instrument Ja, ik Ja, is Is wel Nee, Weet
maak aanwezig aanwezig is niet niet
hier en ik zou maar ik aan-
gebruik hier kan hier wezig
van gebruik geen
van gebruik
kunnen van
maken maken
Parttime werk
4 x 9 werkweek (ingekorte werkweek)
Extra verlof / vakantie (bijvoorbeeld
leeftijdsdagen of -uren)
Vrijstelling van werken tijdens onregelmatige
uren, overwerk
Pre-pensioen (vervroegd met pensioen)
Deeltijd pensioen
Langdurige loopbaanonderbreking (sabbatical,
levensloop)
Variabele beloning gebonden aan persoonlijk
functioneren
Flexibele arbeidsvoorwaarden (bijv.
mogelijkheid om vakantiedagen te kopen of
verkopen)
Aangepaste arbeidsomstandigheden (bijv.
aangepaste werkplek)
Keuzemodel arbeidsvoorwaarden
Rentegratieregelingen
Functionerings- en/of beoordelingsgesprek
(minimaal een keer per jaar)
Loopbaanbegeleiding
Permanente ontwikkeling in de functie
Regelmatige training of scholing (minimaal een
keer per jaar)
Het maken van promotie
Demotie (functieverlaging)
Horizontale functieverandering (functieniveau
verandert niet)
Taakverrijking (functie-uitbreiding met nieuwe
uitdagende taken, zoals mentortaken)
Taakverlichting (belastende taken worden uit
het takenpakket gehaald)
Start nieuwe loopbaan (en dus omscholing)
binnen de organisatie
De mogelijkheid om deel te nemen aan de
besluitvorming in de organisatie
"Het Nieuwe Werken": flexibiliteit in tijd,
plaats en duur van werken
40
Intention to continue to work. Wilt u voor iedere onderstaande uitspraak, over uw
motivatie, aangeven in welke mate de uitspraak op u van toepassing is?
Helemaal Mee Neutraal Mee Helemaal
mee oneens eens mee
oneens eens
Onvoorziene omstandigheden
daargelaten, blijf ik doorwerken zo
lang als ik kan
Als ik geheel vrij was om te kiezen,
zou het mijn voorkeur hebben om te
blijven werken
Ik verwacht zo lang als mogelijk te
blijven werken

41
Appendix B: Results of Multiple Regression

Table 11: Results of Multiple Regression


Dependent variable: Continue working

HR Practices
Parttime werk .020
4 x 9 werkweek (ingekorte werkweek) -.026
Extra verlof / vakantie (bijvoorbeeld leeftijdsdagen of -uren) -.057
Vrijstelling van werken tijdens onregelmatige uren, overwerk -.010
Pre-pensioen (vervroegd met pensioen) .121
Deeltijd pensioen -.095
Langdurige loopbaanonderbreking (sabbatical, levensloop) -.003
Variabele beloning gebonden aan persoonlijk functioneren .031
Flexibele arbeidsvoorwaarden (bijv. mogelijkheid om
vakantiedagen te kopen of verkopen) .193*
Aangepaste arbeidsomstandigheden (bijv. aangepaste werkplek) -.025
Keuzemodel arbeidsvoorwaarden -.050
Rentegratieregelingen -.011
Functionerings- en/of beoordelingsgesprek (minimaal een keer
per jaar) .044
Loopbaanbegeleiding .101
Permanente ontwikkeling in de functie -.113
Regelmatige training of scholing (minimaal een keer per jaar) -.029
Het maken van promotie -.084
Demotie (functieverlaging) -.010
Horizontale functieverandering (functieniveau verandert niet) -.018
Taakverrijking (functie-uitbreiding met nieuwe uitdagende taken,
zoals mentortaken) .196*
Taakverlichting (belastende taken worden uit het takenpakket
gehaald) .104
Start nieuwe loopbaan (en dus omscholing) binnen de organisatie -.110
De mogelijkheid om deel te nemen aan de besluitvorming in de
organisatie .048
"Het Nieuwe Werken": flexibiliteit in tijd, plaats en duur van
werken .189*

*: p < .05

42
Table 12: Results of Multiple Regression
Dependent variable: Engagement

HR Practices
Parttime werk -.094
4 x 9 werkweek (ingekorte werkweek) -.046
Extra verlof / vakantie (bijvoorbeeld leeftijdsdagen of -uren) -.048
Vrijstelling van werken tijdens onregelmatige uren, overwerk .126
Pre-pensioen (vervroegd met pensioen) .068
Deeltijd pensioen -.062
Langdurige loopbaanonderbreking (sabbatical, levensloop) -.037
Variabele beloning gebonden aan persoonlijk functioneren .025
Flexibele arbeidsvoorwaarden (bijv. mogelijkheid om
vakantiedagen te kopen of verkopen) .163*
Aangepaste arbeidsomstandigheden (bijv. aangepaste werkplek) -.087
Keuzemodel arbeidsvoorwaarden .053
Rentegratieregelingen .040
Functionerings- en/of beoordelingsgesprek (minimaal een keer
per jaar) -.074
Loopbaanbegeleiding .177*
Permanente ontwikkeling in de functie -.014
Regelmatige training of scholing (minimaal een keer per jaar) .003
Het maken van promotie .060
Demotie (functieverlaging) -.057
Horizontale functieverandering (functieniveau verandert niet) -.078
Taakverrijking (functie-uitbreiding met nieuwe uitdagende taken,
zoals mentortaken) .142
Taakverlichting (belastende taken worden uit het takenpakket
gehaald) .032
Start nieuwe loopbaan (en dus omscholing) binnen de organisatie .008
De mogelijkheid om deel te nemen aan de besluitvorming in de
organisatie .092
"Het Nieuwe Werken": flexibiliteit in tijd, plaats en duur van
werken .069

*: p < .05

43