Psychosocial work environment and retirement age: a prospective study of 1876 senior employees

Abstract

Purpose

Retention of senior employees is a challenge for most developed countries. We aimed to identify psychosocial work environment factors of importance for the retention of older employees by evaluating the association between the psychosocial work environment and voluntary early retirement in a longitudinal study.

Methods

Data about work environment, health, and background factors came from the DANES 2008 questionnaire survey. We followed members of the Danish early retirement scheme for up to 4 years in national registers—focusing on the age range, 60–64 years, where early retirement was possible. We used Cox proportional hazard regression to analyze the rate of early retirement.

Results

The study included 16 psychosocial work environment factors. The following 10 psychosocial factors were significant predictors of early retirement in covariate adjusted analyses: Low job satisfaction, low influence in job, low possibilities for development, low role clarity, perceived age discrimination, low recognition from management, low workplace justice, poor trust in management, poor leadership quality, and poor predictability. No significant association with early retirement was found for work pace, quantitative demands, emotional demands, role conflicts, social community between colleagues, and trust between colleagues.

Conclusion

Older employees with high job satisfaction, influence, possibilities for development, positive management relations, and jobs with no age discrimination remained longer at the labor market. However, we found no evidence that low demands or good relations between colleagues could influence older employees’ decision on early retirement.

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Acknowledgments

The study was primarily financed by a special grant from the Danish Government regarding absence and exclusion. Results from the study have been presented at the third International Wellbeing at Work conference held in Copenhagen, May 26–28, 2014.

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Correspondence to Sannie Vester Thorsen.

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Thorsen, S.V., Jensen, P.H. & Bjørner, J.B. Psychosocial work environment and retirement age: a prospective study of 1876 senior employees. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 89, 891–900 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00420-016-1125-7

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Keywords

  • Early retirement
  • Working conditions
  • Job satisfaction
  • Management quality
  • Recognition
  • Job control