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Journal article

Engage me: the mature-age worker and stereotype threat

1 Dec 2016
Description

As the workforce ages, and people retire later in life, organizations will need to develop strategies to engage their mature-age workers. We used a stereotype threat framework to investigate the impact of threat-inducing (young manager, young workgroup, manual occupation) and threat-inhibiting (high performance practices, mature-age practices) contextual cues on mature-age worker engagement. A total of 666 mature-age employees in Australia described their work experiences in three surveys administered over a three-year period. Results indicated that mature-age employees who experienced stereotype threat in the workplace reported lower engagement 11–12 months later. All of the contextual cues had an impact on stereotype threat and exerted indirect (mediated by stereotype threat) effects on engagement. However, the effects of manager age were moderated by organizational practices. Diversity conscious mature-age practices moderated the indirect effect of manager age, so mature-age practices were particularly beneficial in counteracting negative cues associated with young managers. But diversity blind high performance practices moderated the direct effect of manager age, so high performance practices were especially helpful in generating engagement among mature-age workers with older managers. We recommend that organizations adopt both diversity blind and diversity conscious practices into their diversity management portfolios. The two types of practices are complementary and have additive effects on mature-age worker engagement.

Publication Details
Identifiers: 
doi: 
10.5465/amj.2015.0564
Volume: 
59
Issue: 
6
Access Rights Type: 
Language: 
Published year only: 
2016
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