The influence of employee age on employee and organization outcomes: a critical review of the literature
Masinde, Christopher I
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This paper is a critical survey on the link between age of employees and organizational outcomes. The paper examines the influence of age on employee performance. It is followed by assessing the advantages and disadvantages of employing both young and older employees in an organization. The lifespan in selected countries is also reviewed to asses circumstances under which organizations in a country could be forced to employ young or old people. The paper also reviews age discrimination in the workplace and how it impacts on employee commitment to the organization hence their performance. Retirement, its reasons, its influencing factors and how it impacts on employee performance is also highlighted. Age and employee outcomes are highlighted in terms of the effect of a persons career fit on his or her outcomes. Impacts of overtime work on age and effects of age on employee outcomes is also analyzed. The paper also reviews how age impacts on organizational outcomes such as turnover, performance, absenteeism and commitment. Most organizations prefer young workers or recruits because they have recent experience in the learning process, can be trained faster than older workers, can easily adopt to changes in technology, are more flexible in their attitudes to change and have less family commitments hence more committed to their organizations. The review clearly reveals that the policy on age and employment should take into account the following facts: firstly, age is a poor predictor of performance, secondly, it is misleading to equate physical and mental ability with age as the results of the review on analysis support the premise that recruiting older workers may sound counter intuitive because they incur higher health care costs, but older workers have few dependants and offer other cost saving measures e.g. low turnover, training new and young workers due to their wealth of experience hence saving on costs. Most firms view the personal qualities of older workers and the skills acquired during their career life as an important asset, which more than compensates for any additional overheads. Older worker's added qualities include accuracy, reliability and good communication skills acquired during their long career life which are difficult to replace. More of the population is living active healthy lives as they get older. Recommendations are given to various stake holders including central government, social partners to combat age barriers, in particular human resource managers are urged to practice age diversity management inspired by a managerial philosophy which different age related attitudes and competencies as resources are oriented to facilitate mutual understanding among different age groups. Assessment, valorization and exchange of skills and experience of old and young workers accompanied by knowledge transmission in both direction. More recognition of old workers by involving them in mentoring projects. Enhancing job satisfaction, especially addressing young peoples' expectations of autonomy, mid generation’s needs for flexible working. Old generation’s needs to a void too heavy demanding jobs. All these are aimed at enhancing productivity of all employees regardless of age. To reap maximum benefits from all categories of employees.