Evidence suggests that organizations in different countries were more likely to send their older staff to early retirement than to retain them. However, ageing and shrinking labour markets force organizations to adjust their policies and practices to avoid staff shortages and improve firms competitiveness. Some more recent studies show that employers are moving away from early exit, instead showing increasing support for longer working lives. Still, a large-scale and longitudinal perspective on how organisations have reacted to the demographic challenges is missing in the literature.
In this study, we aim to fill this gap in the literature by answering two research questions. First, we ask how organisations approach older workers. Second, we study whether those organisational approaches changed over time. Data come from two comparative surveys of employers: 2009 (n=1,077) and 2017 (n=1,358) representative for the Netherlands. We use a three-step group-comparison latent class analysis (LCA) combined with multinomial logistic model (MNL), with multiple imputation of missing values.
We found four approaches to age management in Dutch companies, namely those focused on different measures aimed at retention and stimulation of work (Active), exit practices (Exit), diverse set of active and exit practices (All) and a cluster of organisation with no specific practices towards older workers (None). Between 2009 and 2017 the popularity of active policy largely increased, while exit-oriented policies and passive strategies reduced. The largest pro-active shift occurred in small organisations, firms with a high share of older employees, and knowledge-intensive companies.