Older employees tend to feel more stressed than younger employees when their employers don’t provide them with the support and resources they need to do their jobs well, according to a new study.
The study, published in the “Journal of Vocational Behavior”, found that both younger and older workers had lower levels of overall stress when they were given more autonomy on the job, had good relationships with their bosses and felt they were respected and treated fairly at work.
But when such resources were lacking, older workers reported significantly higher stress levels a year later than their younger colleagues, the researcher said.
“With the workforce becoming more age-diverse and older at the same time, it is important to understand the differences between younger and older workers to help them cope with the demands of their work lives more effectively,” said co-author Lale Yaldiz from the Portland State University in the US.
For the study, the researchers surveyed 243 municipal public works employees between the ages of 24 and 64 over the course of a year.
The findings suggest that older workers place a greater value on having autonomy and a supportive work environment than younger workers because those resources allow them to adapt to the psychological and physical changes that come with aging.
For example, older workers tend to prioritise emotional needs and care more about having socially meaningful interactions and mentoring their colleagues than younger workers whose focus tends to be on gaining the skills they need to advance in their careers, the researcher said.
Since older workers appear to be more susceptible to stress in the face of unfairness, organisations can help workers by being transparent about how decisions are made and implemented, not discriminating, valuing employee input when making key decisions and providing channels for employees to voice concerns, the researchers added.