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Healthy workplaces for women and men of all ages
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Work and organizational psychology.
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2017 (English)Report (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this knowledge compilation is to contribute with knowledge about the work environment in relation to the ever-older workforce. How do employee needs and possibilities change from a course of life perspective? What should the employer and other work environment actors think about in order for the workforce to be able to and want to work to a high age?

The Swedish Work Environment Authority wishes to give an overarching knowledge profile of different aspects of the work environment and the ageing workforce, and we therefore asked seven researchers to summarise the research-based knowledge within each of their areas, from a course of life and gender perspective. An eighth researcher acted as an editor for the anthology, and has also written the preface.

In summary, the report shows that we are becoming even healthier, living ever longer and working to an ever higher age. Older people in the workforce are positive for the economy because productivity increases, and the business sector can make use of competent and experienced staff for a longer time. But for the older labour force to be healthy and want to work at higher ages, one needs to take into consideration how ageing influences health and the capacity to work. With age, all people are affected to different degrees by reduced vision, hearing and physical capacity, as well as longer reaction times. Even their cognitive capacity changes. Certain cognitive abilities are strengthened with rising age, while others deteriorate. With an ageing workforce, more employees have chronic illnesses, which, however, seldom affect the actual working ability. Changes in working life also affect health and wellbeing, for example deregulated work and the technical development. Age and previous experiences impact upon our ability to adapt to these changes. One factor that promotes adaptation is partly resilience (that is to say, resistance and the ability to adapt to the new), partly compensation strategies when the mental and physical resources change. There are no great differences between gender when it comes to the consequences of ageing on health and wellbeing in the work. On the other hand, the public health trend shows increasing differences in health between the lower educated and the higher educated - a difference increasing more quickly among women than among men. The gender-segregated labour market also means that more women than men work in physical and mentally burdensome work. Attitudes at the workplace also affect wellbeing and the will to continue working at higher ages. Men tend to be more sensitive to age discrimination while women run the risk of double discrimination, that is to say based upon both gender and age. Work environment and the attitude to an older workforce are central to the considerations that an employee makes in the choice between continuing to work and retiring. Other prerequisites that influence the decision are one’s own health, private finances and self-fulfilling activities.

The employer can do a great deal to lengthen and improve their employees’ working life. Systematic work environment management benefits everyone, and it can contribute to everyone keeping their working ability and to older people wanting to and being able to work for longer. Occupational health services of good quality also play an important role. Technical aids and adaptation of the working pace and working tasks are other measures that improve the work environment for the older workforce. The employer can also contribute to stimulating work arrangements and organisational support for the employees in order to strengthen their resilience and promote the development of compensation strategies. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Arbetsmiljöverket , 2017. , p. 112
Series
Knowledge compilation / Arbetsmiljöverket, ISSN 1650-3171 ; 2016:8
Keywords [en]
work without boundaries, resilience, compensation, older people, workforce, working life
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-151991OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-151991DiVA, id: diva2:1176333
Available from: 2018-01-22 Created: 2018-01-22 Last updated: 2018-02-08Bibliographically approved

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