Older workers: Do they want to continue working?
As part of the solution to the predicted future labour shortage, Australia will need older workers to fill its worker ranks, and as part of increasing their labour force participation, extended working lives is a popular option. Governments are encouraging older workers to extend their working lives. However, little research has been published about whether older workers want to continue working. This paper adds a new dimension to the public debate about Australia's ageing workforce by exploring the meaning of working to individual older workers. This paper reports the findings from phenomenological research to understand the meaning of working to older Australian workers, and draws from twenty-four in-depth exploratory interviews. Participants were 50 years of age or older, from one tertiary sector organisation, and selected using both purposeful sampling and the snowballing technique. Thematic analysis was chosen to analyse the data and a software program used to assist in the data coding. Key findings suggest that despite the Government's attempts to encourage older workers to continue working, the majority of those over the age of 50 want to retire early. Irrespective of employment category, the older workers did not want to continue working beyond the traditional retirement age of 65 years. Several factors are identified as influences on older workers' working intentions, including some gendered influences. Australian organisations cannot afford to lose valued employees to early retirement, yet this trend appears likely to continue unless addressed.
Abstracts and Proceedings of ERA 2005: The 4th National Conference for Emerging Researchers in Ageing