Retirement climate in organisations : its relationship to intended retirement age : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Industrial/Organisational Psychology at Massey University
As the 'baby boomer' generation approaches retirement and begins to leave the workforce, birth and death trends have alerted researchers of an impending labour shortage in the near future. Despite these trends, the climate toward older workers in organisations can be negative. Negative attitudes toward older workers and age discrimination can be manifested in policies that encourage early retirement, and send messages to older workers that they are not valued. As a strategy to combat projected labour shortages, older workers who are physically able could be encouraged to stay in the workforce. The present study explored how older workers' (55 years and over) perceptions of organisational attitudes and behaviours influenced their retirement decision. A new variable, Retirement Climate (RC) operationalised employee's perceptions of organisational attitudes and behaviours directed to older workers. The relationships of RC and other independent variables (organisational policies and pressure to retire) to intended retirement age (IRA), and the moderating effects of job satisfaction, organisational commitment and job involvement on the relationship between RC and IRA, were explored. Results indicated that RC was not related to IRA, but was related to perceptions of pressure to retire. Pressure to retire was also in turn significantly related to IRA, suggesting that pressure to retire may act as a mediating variable. Organisational policies showed no significant relationships with dependent variables, and none of the predicted moderator variables showed any moderating effect on the relationship between RC and IRA. Possible explanations for the results are discussed, and avenues for future research are suggested. Practical implications of the findings for organisations to encourage longer workforce participation of older workers are also presented.