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Retaining an ageing workforce: the effects of high-performance work systems and flexible work programmes

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Abstract

Older workers make up a growing proportion of the workforce , and research on how best to manage them is being conducted accordingly. Here, we explored the employee retention payoff of high-performance work systems (HPWS) and flexible work programmes (FWPs) when used with an older workforce. Drawing from the job demands-resources model, we hypothesised that HPWS retention outcomes decrease as the workforce ages, whereas the retention capacity of FWPs increases. We also explored how the parallel provision of HPWS and FWPs affects workforce retention in more ageing workplaces. The results suggest that workforce age composition affects the HPWS-retention relationship. However, the value of FWPs as retention tools does not vary significantly with workforce ageing. Furthermore, the provision of FWPs alongside HPWS appears to be a less-than-optimal approach to this retention. These findings may contribute to a better understanding of the HRM-performance relationship, while inspiring further research into successful age-differentiated HR strategies.

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Drawing on the perceived organizational membership theoretical framework and the group-value justice model, we developed and tested a model predicting older workers' intention to remain with their organization. We hypothesized that human resource practices targeted to older workers would be related to perceived insider status through how older workers perceived their supervisor managed these practices (perceived procedural and interpersonal justice). We also hypothesized that perceived insider status would mediate the relationship between perceived contribution and intention to remain. We conducted two studies to test the hypothesized model. Study 1 participants (N = 236) were a diverse group of older workers and Study 2 participants (N = 420) were older registered nurses. Using structural equation modeling, we found support for the hypothesized model. All of the hypothesized relationships were significant in Study 2 and all except one were significant in Study 1. Older workers will want to remain a member of their organization when their organization engages in practices tailored to the needs of older workers, their supervisor implements these practices fairly, and their organization conveys that it values the contribution of its older workers thereby fostering a strong sense of belonging. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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