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Sloan Center News

Older Workers Are Most Engaged, Committed, and Satisfied with Their Jobs — Generations of Talent Study

cross-national study dispels myths; analyzes effects of country, age, and career stage among employees

(Boston, MA) A new research study by the Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College examines work experiences of employees, finding that those 40 years old and older are the most engaged and demonstrate the highest level of organizational commitment, and that those 50 years old and older are the most satisfied with their jobs.

The Generations of Talent Study is one of few to assess the effects of country, age, and career stage among employees worldwide. It gathered data about work experiences from 11,298 individuals, working for seven multinational companies, at 24 worksites in 11 countries. In this initial data release, researchers analyze responses in individual countries as well as divide countries into two groups: those with older populations and developed market economies (Old-Developed Countries: Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, UK, U.S.) and those with younger populations and developing market economies (Young-Developing Countries: Brazil, China, India, Mexico, South Africa, Botswana).

  • Employees working in the young-developing countries show higher levels of work engagement and organizational commitment than do those in the old-developed countries.
  • In contrast, job satisfaction levels are similar on average for employees working in the young-developing countries and in the old-developed countries.

“A higher percentage of employees in the United States are aged 40 and older as compared to those in both old-developed and young-developing countries,” says Dr. Natalia Sarkisian, principal investigator. “In both old-developed and young-developing countries, workers in this age group report higher levels of engagement, organizational commitment, and job satisfaction than younger employees.”

  • Controlling for demographic factors and job characteristics, the study finds that work engagement and organizational commitment levels are greater among employees who are 40 -49 years old and those who are 50 and older than among their younger counterparts.
  • The study also shows that job satisfaction is highest among employees who are 50 and older, and nearly as high among those who are younger than 30. Employees between the ages of 30 and 39 evidenced the least satisfaction with their jobs.

“Regardless of the complexities of today’s global economy, all companies want employees who are willing to give their very best,” says Dr. Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes, Director of the Sloan Center on Aging & Work. “Contrary to popular opinion, older workers are the most engaged, and forward-thinking companies need to begin strategizing about how to capitalize on this asset.

See also Generations of Talent Country Reports (Brazil, China, India, Japan, Mexico, The Netherlands, Spain, U.K., and U.S)

The Generations of Talent Study is funded by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.