Israel is experiencing accelerated workforce aging and increasing retirement age that began in the last two decades. Aging workers suffer from increased illness and impairment rates, challenging employing organizations with reduced work capacity. Occupational health practitioners often assist employers in accommodating these challenges. However, insufficient evidence on prognostic factors, organizational practices, and age management tools hamper successful accommodation. Research on the organizational perceptions of aging workers is also limited. Our study aims to (1) identify the domains in which the aging workforce challenges Israeli organizations according to a multi-level theoretical model we developed, and (2) assess the practices employed by organizations to address the declines in work capacity from employers' and workers’ perspectives. Our qualitative study employed semi-structured interviews of 26 employers and workers' representatives from eight Israeli organizations sampled by maximum variation according to organizational characteristics. Thematic framework analysis of organizational perceptions on challenges, facilitators, and practices in use, via aging workers’ cases was utilized. We identified organizational challenges on five levels: individual worker, work environment, interpersonal team relationships, organization, and community relationships, stemming from the aging workers' reduced capacity to meet job demands and conditions. Time adjustments, work environment changes, and job task changes were common accommodations practices used by the organizations. Successful accommodations from the employers' perspective preserved workers' and teams' productivity, and from the workers’ perspective, those that lowered demand and improved job control without damaging earnings or job status. Taken together, organizations from all economic sectors should prepare for the increasing need to accommodate work conditions for aging workers with limitations to preserve their health and safety. Balancing employers' and workers' perspectives when accommodating workers with reduced work capacity is imperative to promote healthy aging at the workplace. Government intervention is advised to encourage continued job participation to reduce employment termination.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The PI's (LRH) work on this study was supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology, Israel. The authors are also grateful to the organizations that agreed to participate and their managers, HR, and workers' representatives for sharing their experiences and knowledge. The authors would also like to acknowledge the dedicated research team enthusiastically promoting the study and Prof. Rafael Carel (of Blessed Memory) for promoting the industry linkage. Special thanks to Dina Halivni for her valuable insights in improving the codebook, Prof Aisha Yusufzai for excellent methodological guidance and knowledgeable advice, Prof. Richard Tresch for his helpful editorial assistance, and Dr. Preethi John for her insights on human resources and organizations.
© 2022 The Authors
- Aging workers
- Occupational health
- Work capacity
- Work environment