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Supporting older workers to work: a systematic review

Mego Kuan-Lun Chen (School of Applied Psychology, Griffith University, Mt Gravatt, Australia)
Elliroma Gardiner (School of Applied Psychology, Griffith University, Mt Gravatt, Australia) (Centre for Work, Organisation and Wellbeing, Griffith University, Nathan, Australia)

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Article publication date: 17 June 2019

Issue publication date: 22 July 2019




The purpose of this paper is to identify what work-related factors influence the continued participation of older workers in the workforce.


A systematic quantitative literature review of the workforce participation literature identified 27 publications from 1995 to 2016 that examined the impact of work-related factors on older workers’ intention to continue working.


Results show that work demands, learning and development opportunities, job autonomy, recognition and respect, mentoring opportunities, supportive organisational climate and social support were significant factors that predicted older workers’ workforce participation decisions. Interestingly, less evidence was found to support flexible work arrangements or salary as inducers of workforce participation. Results also show an overrepresentation of cross-sectional studies involving participants from western countries employed in healthcare and social assistance sectors.

Practical implications

Organisations should adjust their policies and practices to accommodate the needs of older workers, focusing specifically on increasing factors that encourage participation and removing obstacles to participation.

Social implications

Increasing the participation rates of older workers is a key goal for governments and organisations worldwide. This research identifies some specific factors that are likely to encourage continued participation.


A systematic evaluation of the extant research draws new conclusions and insights as to what work factors are more likely to influence the participation decisions of older workers.



Chen, M.K.-L. and Gardiner, E. (2019), "Supporting older workers to work: a systematic review", Personnel Review, Vol. 48 No. 5, pp. 1318-1335.



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