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New Publication on the Resilience of Older Workers During Lockdown

Published: 16-02-2022

Older workers can handle involuntary telework in lockdown periods better than younger workers. This is the core finding from a large-scale survey among Dutch university employees, conducted by Susanne Scheibe together with RUG colleagues Ton Modderman and Jessica De Bloom. This age advantage can be linked to better job resources (job security from having a permanent contract, better equipment in the homeoffice) and older workers' better self-regulation (maintaining work-life-balance and seeing positives, for example framing the pandemic as time for reflection and learning).

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We investigated the relationship between age, resilience, job demands and resources, and self-regulation in 1715 university employees during the COVID-19 pandemic (February 2021) by means of an online survey with closed and open questions. Correlation, regression, and qualitative analyses showed that older employees reported higher resilience than younger employees. This finding was robust after controlling for background factors (i.e., gender, expat status, job type, living alone). Age and resilience were directly related to higher job resources (i.e., job security and equipment), work–life balance, and seeing positives, whereas the relationship to demands was ambiguous. Age was unrelated to workload, negatively related to childcare, and positively to eldercare. Resilience was negatively related to workload but unrelated to childcare or eldercare demands. When all variables were combined to jointly predict resilience, age, job resources, and self-regulation resources predicted resilience, whereas demands (i.e., workload, childcare, and eldercare demands) did not. Our findings suggest that age-related advantages in well-being have persisted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Older workers were more likely to reframe the crisis and see it as an opportunity for personal growth. They possess and utilize resources in unique and beneficial ways, which could also benefit younger workers.