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Burnout and older workers' intentions to retire

Kène Henkens (Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI), The Hague, The Netherlands)
Monique Leenders (Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI), The Hague, The Netherlands)

International Journal of Manpower

ISSN: 0143-7720

Article publication date: 15 June 2010




The central theme of this article is early retirement intentions and burnout among older workers. The paper aims to investigate whether there is a relationship between the burnout dimensions exhaustion, cynicism and competence and retirement intentions.


The data were taken from a survey held among Dutch older workers (50+) and their spouses (n=2,892).


The results show that a high workload, heavy physical work, lack of challenge, autonomy and social support from colleagues and managers are related to burnout complaints, although in a different way for the three dimensions. The results show that besides the effect of burnout, retirement intentions are related to the level of marital quality. Older workers who report a higher level of marital quality report a stronger intention to retire. Burnout and retirement intentions are related, but appear to have partly different predictors. While burnout can generally be explained by the work environment, non‐work related factors enhance the understanding of retirement intentions.


This study shows that actual retirement is often preceded by feelings of burnout, in particular a mental detachment from work and feelings of exhaustion.



Henkens, K. and Leenders, M. (2010), "Burnout and older workers' intentions to retire", International Journal of Manpower, Vol. 31 No. 3, pp. 306-321.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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