Davies, Eleanor M.M. and Cartwright, Susan (2011) Psychological and psychosocial predictors of attitudes to working past normal retirement age. Employee Relations, 33 (3). pp. 249-268. ISSN 0142-5455

Purpose – This research aims to look at preferences for retirement, in particular, later retirement, amongst a sample of older employees in the UK in the financial services industry. It seeks to investigate specifically the influence of personal, psychological and psychosocial determinants of preferences for retiring later. Additionally, the study presents a typology of different retirement preferences based on psychological and psychosocial variables.

Design/methodology/approach – The data are based on questionnaires from 556 employees of a UK financial services organisation (aged 40-60) and measures include psychological expectations of retirement (expected adjustment to retirement, attitudes towards leisure and social interaction), psychosocial attitudes (job satisfaction, intrinsic motivation, organisational comment and work commitment) and attitudes towards working beyond normal retirement age. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses were conducted and one-way ANOVA was conducted to identify differences between groups.

Findings – The data show very negative attitudes towards working later than the normal retirement age and that expectations of adjustment to retirement were the most significant predictor towards retirement preferences, followed by work commitment. Significant differences in retirement attitudes and intentions were found between different groups of employees.

Practical implications – Some of the practical implications of the work suggest that retirement preferences are shaped only to a moderate degree by psychosocial attitudes. In seeking to retain older workers in the workforce for longer employers should encourage employees to develop strong social relationships at work and allow gradual transitions to ultimate retirement.

Originality/value – The paper looked at preferences for retirement, particularly later retirement, and found that, if employers wish to retain the knowledge, skills and expertise of their employees, then it would seem that they need to devise means of allowing people to achieve some of the more desirable aspects of retirement (greater free time, opportunity to pursue hobbies and interests) at the same time as retaining some of the benefits of work (status, professional interest, income etc.). Phased and flexible retirement initiatives therefore seem to be one of the solutions.

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