Despite the frequently referenced graying of the U.S. workforce and a sizeable literature on retirement decisionmaking, we know relatively little about the work-related concerns and experiences of older workers those aged 55+. This qualitative study addresses that gap by examining the current employment situations of a purposive sample of 37 older workers. Thematic content analysis revealed a vast diversity in the concerns and experiences of contemporary older workers, with participants being actively involved in all of the traditional stages of work-life development. Findings suggest a deepened or more nuanced view of the principal meanings of work in particular, identity and social interaction and highlight several negative aspects of later-life employment such as pension insecurity, unemployment, age discrimination, not having found one's 'niche', and chronic interpersonal difficulties with co-workers. Findings are discussed against the backdrops of a rapidly changing workplace and dramatically shifting work-retirement trajectories in which job stability and predictable retirement are less common. The findings also call into question areas of workplace practice and policy that may be based on outdated assumptions about older workers.
Project: Assessing the Relational Resources of Older Workers
Project: The ARROW Study