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The Citisales Study

work culture & flexible work arrangements

This study includes survey data from employees (both hourly-paid and professional) and qualitative interviews with district and regional managers, all of whom were employees (in one of three regions of the U.S.) at a national retail chain company, “CitiSales.” Job quality factors, such as supervisor support, schedule satisfaction and flexibility, career development and promotion opportunities, and job clarity were examined in relation to health, well-being, and employee engagement analyses focused on issues such as job quality (including worker-supervisor relationships and workplace flexibility), generational differences, and hourly-paid vs. professional employees. While workers of all ages were surveyed, particular attention was paid to older workers of both the Traditionalist and Baby Boom generations.

key research questions

  • What strategies are most successful in making workplace flexibility both usable and beneficial in terms of helping older workers work and live the lives they want while maintaining customer satisfaction and company productivity?
  • How can we better understand the impact of workplace culture as it is experienced at the worksite and work team levels with regard to the utilization of workplace flexibility?
  • What are the drivers of employee engagement for older workers?
  • How do generational differences in the perceptions of the capabilities of older workers affect employee engagement and well-being?

selected findings

  • Job quality for older workers consists of flexibility, job fit, opportunities for development, and supervisor effectiveness. For hourly workers, schedule input is also an important factor; for professional workers, teamwork and perceived fairness are important factors.
  • Supervisor effectiveness is the single most important factor in predicting employee engagement (and psychological well-being); however, supervisor effectiveness is predicted by the job quality factors mentioned above. In other words, supervisors must provide flexibility, opportunities for development and advancement, and other aspects of job quality to be considered effective.
  • Older workers are significantly higher in employee engagement (organizational commitment that includes cognitive, emotional, and behavioral components) than younger workers.
  • Older workers are also significantly higher in psychological well-being than younger workers and report equally good health, i.e., there are no differences between the self-reported health of younger workers and older workers.
  • There are generational differences/ages in the perceptions of the capabilities of older workers: (a) In general, older workers (both traditionalists and the Baby Boom Generation) are very positive about themselves and the company they work for. They see themselves as more reliable than younger workers, more productive, and as having great loyalty to the company. (b) On the other hand, older workers are more likely to perceive that younger workers are given preference in opportunities for promotion. For those in the three older generations who have this perception, employee engagement and psychological well-being is lower than for those who do not hold this view. (c) Members of Generation Y who hold this perception are more engaged than those who do not. This suggests, as some have reported, that Generation Y is subjected to the opposite type of stereotyping, i.e., often reminded that they are too young for a promotion.
  • The Baby Boom Generation is least likely of all the generations to perceive that older workers are respected by their co-workers.
  • Employees over the age of 55 were more likely than younger employees to agree/strongly agree with the statement, “In decisions about promotion, [my company] gives younger people preference over older people.”

implications for employers

  • Schedule flexibility is important to retail employees of all ages, and, contrary to popular opinion, can be provided to paid-hourly employees.
  • Effective supervisors are the key to engaged and committed employees; supervisory training should involve strategies for making job quality of paramount importance.
  • There are positive and negative stereotypes of both older and younger workers; employers are encouraged to rely on factors having to do with job performance rather than age in making decisions about promotions and career development opportunities.




For questions of information regarding the CitiSales Study, or to schedule a conversation with any of the Center’s team, please contact:

617-552-9195 |


the citisales team

Jacquelyn B. James, PhD
Co-Director of Research, Primary Data Studies
Sloan Center on Aging & Work, Boston College

Research Professor
Lynch School of Education, Boston College
Sharon P. McKechnie, PhD
Assistant Professor of Management
Emmanuel College
Jennifer E. Swanberg, PhD
Associate Professor of Social Work
College of Social Work, Colleges of Medicine and Public Health, University of Kentucky 
Executive Director
Institute for Workplace Innovation, University of Kentucky