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The role of employers opinions about skills and productivity of older workers: example of Poland

Konrad Turek (Jagiellonian University, Cracow, Poland)
Jolanta Perek-Bialas (Warsaw School of Economics, Warsaw, Poland)

Employee Relations

ISSN: 0142-5455

Article publication date: 30 September 2013




The purpose of this empirical paper is to investigate the employers’ perception of productivity of older workers in Poland with comparison to the younger ones. The paper examines whether various factors including employee's skills and company policies play a role. The findings were compared with situation in the Netherlands, discussing the differences.


Data come from 2009 representative survey (CATI) of 1,037 Polish companies. Supervisor’ rating method was used for assessment of workers skills and productivity. Primary analysis are linear regression models with employer's assessment of productivity of older and younger workers as dependent variables.


In case of older workers, higher assessment of soft skills is the most influential factor for explaining the assessment of productivity, while hard skills play smaller, yet not minor, role. In case of younger workers the relation is reversed. Age management aiming at improvement of older workers’ job performance correlates with higher rating of their productivity.

Research limitations/implications

Cross-sectional researches in the case of age-group comparison may be biased by the cohort effect.

Practical implications

The paper brings forth important implications for policy makers and employers who will have to deal with the challenge of an aging and shrinking workforce. They refer to lifelong learning, system of public health, age management. The most important conclusion concerns the negative influence of age-related stereotypes for the labor market situation of older workers.


The paper presents data from the first research aimed at employers’ views of older workers in Poland. The paper extends the knowledge about relation of employers’ opinions, their actions and situation of older workers.



The paper was prepared thanks to the participation in the project “Activating Senior Potential in Ageing Europe,” funded by the EU Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant FP7-216289 (ASPA) and thanks also to the financial support of the Institute of Statistics and Demography of Warsaw School of Economics. The authors would also like to thank Prof Kène Henkens (NIDI, The Netherlands) and Prof Krzysztof Opolski (Warsaw University, Poland) for their useful remarks and opinions of earlier versions of this paper.


Turek, K. and Perek-Bialas, J. (2013), "The role of employers opinions about skills and productivity of older workers: example of Poland", Employee Relations, Vol. 35 No. 6, pp. 648-664.



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