The Psychological Contracts of Older Employees



Many organizations are currently facing an aging workforce and have therefore called for researchers to examine how older employees can be optimally motivated and retained. To this end, we believe it is essential to understand what older employees expect from their organization. We therefore introduce the psychological contract—describing the mutual obligations between employee and employer—and review the literature on older employees’ psychological contracts. In addition, we perform a meta-analysis to shed additional light on the type of obligations that older employees perceive in their psychological contract. We conclude that future studies should focus on unraveling the mechanisms—such as future time perspective and changing goals and values—that create differences between older and younger employees in the content of and the reactions to the psychological contract. Practitioners are advised to monitor changes in these underlying mechanisms as employees grow older, and to implement age-conscious Human Resource policies accordingly in order to manage older employees’ psychological contracts.


Organizational Commitment Psychological Contract Relational Contract Mutual Obligation Psychological Contract Breach 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Experimental and Applied PsychologyVrije Universiteit BrusselBrusselsBelgium
  2. 2.Department of Organisation StudiesKU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  3. 3.Antwerp Management SchoolUniversity of AntwerpAntwerpBelgium
  4. 4.School of ManagementUniversity of BathBathUK

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