How Do Employers Respond to an Aging Workforce? Evidence from Surveys Among Employers, 2009–2017

  • Jaap Oude MuldersEmail author
  • Kène Henkens
  • Hendrik P. van Dalen


Employers are central actors in shaping employment opportunities for older workers and facilitating longer working lives. In this chapter, we study the ways in which employers have adapted their attitudes and organizational policies and practices to deal with an aging workforce. We do so by comparing data from two large surveys on the topic of workforce aging among employers in the Netherlands, conducted in 2009 and 2017. The Netherlands forms an interesting case study as it is in the midst of transitioning from a society with high rates of early retirement to one with comparatively high employment participation rates of older workers and an increasing statutory retirement age. The results show that employers have strong concerns regarding the costs of employing an aging workforce and about potential negative effects of aging on organizational productivity. At the same time, however, employers have become much more active in offering human resource practices aimed at accommodating and training older workers, and employers are overall more supportive of work at higher ages. Overall, we identify a growing sense of urgency among employers to invest in longer working lives and to ensure the long-term workability of older workers. However, there remains a strong desire for policy changes that offer a lower statutory retirement age for workers in physically demanding jobs or a more attainable form of part-time retirement to ease the transition to longer working lives.


Workforce aging and employer attitudes Age-based human resource practices Survey studies Aging workforce and costs and productivity Ensuring workability of older workers Policy reforms with longer working lives 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jaap Oude Mulders
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kène Henkens
    • 1
    • 2
  • Hendrik P. van Dalen
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute/KNAW/University of GroningenThe HagueThe Netherlands
  2. 2.University Medical Center Groningen and University of AmsterdamGroningenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Tilburg UniversityTilburgThe Netherlands

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