Purpose The workforce in most industrialized countries is aging: this ongoing demographic change provides new challenges for the organization management. In particular, recent reports show an increase in perceived age discrimination, that is the prejudice by one age group toward other age groups: this differential treatment can be unintentional or deliberate, unconscious or explicit. In the workplace, age discrimination is often manifested in such organizational practices as limiting older workers from job responsibilities or restricting access to career development opportunities. Despite the importance of this topic, there has been relatively little research on age discrimination and its negative impact on both worker and organization. Therefore, the purpose of the present study is to test the effect of age discrimination on engagement of older workers. Drawing on the social exchange framework and in particular on the norm of reciprocity, we hypothesize that when employees feel treated unfairly they will respond by reducing their engagement, that is a broad measure of employee’s reciprocity with the organization. The second aim of the study is examine the presence of moderating factors that can mitigate this negative relationship. Specifically, proactive personality is the tendency to affect environmental changes: proactive individuals take actions to influence their environment, identify opportunities and show initiatives. Therefore, age discrimination should have a differential relationship with engagement for older workers with low or high level of proactive personality. Design Data were collected from 120 workers over 55 years in an insurance company in Italy. Hierarchical regression analysis was performed in order to test direct and moderated effects. Results Results show that age discrimination is negatively related to engagement for older workers (main effect). Moreover, there is a moderating effect of proactive personality on the relationship age discrimination-engagement: older workers reported lower levels of engagement, are those with high age discrimination and low proactive personality (interaction effect). Practical Implications Organizations should take into consideration that age discrimination leads to negative effects on work attitudes for older employees: the fact that proactive personality can buffer these consequences suggests to develop this characteristic, for example focusing on activities such as mentoring, group processes and citizenship behaviours.

The Impact of Age Discrimination on Engagement of Older Workers: the Buffering Role of Proactive Personality

PICCOLI, BEATRICE;BELLOTTO, Massimo
2014-01-01

Abstract

Purpose The workforce in most industrialized countries is aging: this ongoing demographic change provides new challenges for the organization management. In particular, recent reports show an increase in perceived age discrimination, that is the prejudice by one age group toward other age groups: this differential treatment can be unintentional or deliberate, unconscious or explicit. In the workplace, age discrimination is often manifested in such organizational practices as limiting older workers from job responsibilities or restricting access to career development opportunities. Despite the importance of this topic, there has been relatively little research on age discrimination and its negative impact on both worker and organization. Therefore, the purpose of the present study is to test the effect of age discrimination on engagement of older workers. Drawing on the social exchange framework and in particular on the norm of reciprocity, we hypothesize that when employees feel treated unfairly they will respond by reducing their engagement, that is a broad measure of employee’s reciprocity with the organization. The second aim of the study is examine the presence of moderating factors that can mitigate this negative relationship. Specifically, proactive personality is the tendency to affect environmental changes: proactive individuals take actions to influence their environment, identify opportunities and show initiatives. Therefore, age discrimination should have a differential relationship with engagement for older workers with low or high level of proactive personality. Design Data were collected from 120 workers over 55 years in an insurance company in Italy. Hierarchical regression analysis was performed in order to test direct and moderated effects. Results Results show that age discrimination is negatively related to engagement for older workers (main effect). Moreover, there is a moderating effect of proactive personality on the relationship age discrimination-engagement: older workers reported lower levels of engagement, are those with high age discrimination and low proactive personality (interaction effect). Practical Implications Organizations should take into consideration that age discrimination leads to negative effects on work attitudes for older employees: the fact that proactive personality can buffer these consequences suggests to develop this characteristic, for example focusing on activities such as mentoring, group processes and citizenship behaviours.
Age Discrimination; Engagement of Older Workers; Proactive Personality; Social Exchange Framework
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11562/818565
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