Later Life Workplace Index (LLWI) ©Prof. Dr. Jürgen Deller et al. (2020)
Dimensionality of the Later Life Workplace Index characterizing organizational practices for the sustainable employment of older employees

The nine dimensions of the Later Life Workplace Index (LLWI) cover organizational aspects regarding the employment of age diverse and older workforces. It explicitly takes into account both soft factors such as organizational climate and leadership, as well as hard factors such as work design and the transition to retirement. Not all factors are relevant for older employees only. Many serve the successful employment of an age diverse workforce.

  • Organizational Climate
  • Leadership
  • Work Design
  • Health Management
  • Individual Development
  • Knowledge Management
  • Transition to Retirement
  • Continued Employment
  • Health and Retirement Coverage

Organizational Climate

The organizational climate dimension includes the set standards and actions of an employer shaped by the mission and values of the organization. An organizational climate that fosters good management of employees just before and in retirement age especially promotes equal opportunities and a positive image for all age groups. Indicators are:

Equality of opportunity: Initial conditions should be the same for every employee regardless of age. Further, no discrimination or stigmatization due to age should occur. Each employee therefore has the same opportunities, e.g. participation in training and professional qualification or in the need of downsizing.

Positive image of age: Prevailing beliefs and attitudes regarding older employees are shaped by a positive attitude within the organization. Aging should be understood as an individual change process of competencies, motivation, values, and behavior. Opportunities should be recognized, valued and realized. For example, by identifying and assigning tasks which correspond to the specific competencies of older individuals.

Open and target group-oriented communication: The organization is characterized by a differentiated image of age that is communicated trough external and internal representation of the organization. This explicitly includes open and transparent exchange between employees and their managers regarding retirement and/or continued opportunities for work. Positive images representing all age groups within the employee magazine, on the intranet or website are another example.

Leadership

The leadership dimension includes the responsibility of organizational executives to harness the potential of employees at all ages and particularly just before and in retirement age. This is achieved through the consideration of each individual employee’s strengths and by showing appreciation for their talents and contributions. Indicators are:

Appreciation: Managers of an organization should have an appreciative attitude towards their employees of all ages, manifested through a consistent demonstration of respect and kindness. Managers should reward the experience and achievements of their employees by offering higher levels of job autonomy and responsibility. Celebrating milestones and farewells are another way to convey gratitude, particularly when an employee is going into retirement. 

Responsiveness to individuality: Managers of an organization should be sensitive to individual needs and events that occur at different life stages. They should also take into account each individual’s personality and performance capability.  Managers are responsible for recognizing and harnessing individual potential regardless of age and for creating performance-enhancing conditions. Among other factors, this includes the consideration of employees´ wishes and suggestions regarding the design of their work space as well as the consideration of individual life circumstances, such as the need to care for family. 

Work Design

The work design dimension includes the adaptation of work location, time and physical space to fit the individual needs and abilities of employees, relieve strain and increase job satisfaction and efficiency. Indicators are:

Flexible work time arrangements: The organization should allow employees to change their work time depending on individual needs. Specific solutions will depend on the nature of an employee’s work. Options for flexibility could include a long- or short-term switch to part time, offering flextime, job sharing, the possibility of swapping shifts, and unpaid leaves.

Flexible workplaces: When possible, employees should be able to choose their work location based on their individual needs and what is most efficient. Examples include the facilitation and technical support of home-office-solutions or the installation of silent work places within the office.

Work according to capabilities: Employees should have adequate jobs corresponding to their individual physical and mental performance capability and resilience. If not the case, this could be realized through a temporary or permanent change to another role that is less straining. Swapping jobs or reconsidering and adapting work flows should also be taken into consideration.

Ergonomic working conditions: The work place should be designed according to ergonomic requirements and should also take into account the individual circumstances of the employee. For example occupational safety measures should be taken and supportive equipment and/or tools should be provided.

Health Management

The health management dimension includes all organizational activities that aim to maintain and promote employees’ health and work ability. Health management should be characterized by a holistic approach addressing not only specific interventions but also health-promoting work design and leadership. Indicators are:

Availability of physical exercise and nutrition opportunities: Initiatives to strengthen health and work ability should be offered, such as company sports activities, active breaks and nutritional guidance. 

Workplace Medical treatment: Measures should be taken to help employees avoid medical conditions and assistance to aid in the recovery of sick employees should be offered. Examples include company doctors, on-site medical check-ups and physical therapy, along with wellness programs.

Health promotion: Measures should be taken to disseminate knowledge about healthy behaviors to help employees make responsible and healthy decisions. This could be done by providing information on healthy living. Moreover, managers should act as role models for healthy behaviors and promote a healthy work environment. This includes taking part in physical exercise, nutrition opportunities and related programs themselves, as well as encouraging a sustainable work-life balance.

Individual Development

Employees should be supported in their professional and personal development during their entire work life. A special emphasis is put on the importance of lifelong learning through continued education and training. There should also be opportunities for career development through internal advancement and promotions. Indicators are:

Continuous development planning: Planning for each individual employee’s future should be done on an ongoing basis at all ages and stages of the work life. This could be done through individual meetings between managers and employees and by providing professional workshops that allow for self-reflection on abilities, competencies, and goals.

Appropriate solutions for training and development: The organization should provide further training and education aligned with the individual employee's professional, educational, and life experience as well as with organizational goals. Further, training content and methods should be targeted towards specific groups. Examples of appropriate training and development solutions are workshops, seminars and industry conferences, training for new technologies or equipment, cross-training, and internships for people of all ages. These training and development opportunities can be facilitated onsite or through reimbursement of tuition or fees.

Enabling development steps and job changes: Modifications to an employee’s current position, function or job should be made possible to reflect the specific competencies and development interests of an individual. For example, this could be achieved by increasing job responsibilities, inclusion into other projects, or a horizontal or vertical change of position, which could also mean an additional apprenticeship or a new job within a different department.

Knowledge Management

The knowledge management dimension includes procedures for the transfer, exchange, and conservation of knowledge between different generations of employees. Indicators are:

Institutionalized knowledge transfer: Institutionalized structures that transfer knowledge from experienced employees to their successors should be in place. This can be achieved through mentoring and “buddy” programs or through a systematic knowledge transfer process before employees leave the organization for retirement.

Inter-generative collaboration: The organization should allow for mutual transfer of knowledge and experience between generations. This transfer goes in both directions, young to old, as well as old to young. Its structure is not necessarily determined by the organization. For example, collaboration can happen within intergenerational pairs or age-mixed teams.

Transition to Retirement

The transition into retirement dimension includes the necessary conversations, planning, and workplace solutions for any employee who is on the verge of retiring. Information and counseling should be provided to help the employee transition. Indicators are:

Timely transition planning: Managers should talk with employees about their personal plans for entering the retirement stage, including a succession plan. Potential transition scenarios should be actively discussed to find individual solutions, for example, through annual employee interviews.

Phased retirement and individualized transition solutions: Generic solutions for the transition into retirement should be tailored according to employees’ individual needs. Flexibility and imagination should be present when designing the employee’s individual transition into retirement. Phased retirement through a gradual reduction of working time should be offered companywide. Phased retirement can take place over a shorter or longer period of time, depending on needs.

Counselling for retirement life preparation: Organizations should support their employees in preparing mentally for the life change of retirement by providing advising and counseling. Employees should be motivated to actively design their retirement life prior to transition. For example, individual preparation can be fostered through a structured approach that reflects individual expectations and plans. There may also be opportunities to establish alternative activities beyond employment.

Continuous inclusion and maintaining contact: Tools should be in place to maintain contact with employees even after their retirement and to help them stay engaged as part of the organization. This could be facilitated through an active management of relationships by means of an alumni network, invitations to organizational events or by allowing for voluntary work.

Continued Employment

The continued employment dimension includes the organizational design and employment options for employees at retirement age. This includes former employees of the organization as well as external employees looking for continued employment.

Individualized employment options: Employment options for individuals, who would otherwise be fully retired, should be offered systematically. To ensure employment options are meaningful for both the organization and the employee, integration of those employees into the organization should be strategically planned. For example, they might be brought in on a temporary basis at peak production times. Tasks and work time should be adaptable to the individual employee. This can be achieved through alternative contract forms such as consulting and mentoring work or flexible work time arrangements with generally fewer hours than a full-time position.

(Re-) hiring of older employees: Older individuals, particularly including already and almost retired employees should be specifically addressed by job marketing, hiring and re-employment processes. This is achieved through age-friendly communication of job offers and the use of alternative marketing paths to address external as well as internal individuals. This explicitly includes employees with long careers in other industries or companies.

Health and Retirement Coverage

Organizations should support their employees with retirement savings and insurance coverage, if not sufficiently provided by public systems. Requirements vary due to different regulations and social systems. The support may be a direct financial benefit or put into practice as individual planning and assistance.

Retirement savings and pensions: Employees should be offered options for retirement savings, if not sufficiently covered by public systems. Organizations may include pensions and retirement saving accounts into their full compensation packages, offer optional saving possibilities to be opened by the employees individually, and support their employees in timely planning and organization of their retirement savings. 

Insurances and financial emergency support: Organizations should offer health related insurance coverage, if not sufficiently covered by public systems. This includes (additional) health-, disability-, care- or life insurances, which particularly cover risks that increase with age. Additional financial support may be offered in case of family emergencies, as e.g., in a case of nursing care or child sickness.