Development (f)or Maintenance? An Empirical Study on the Use of and Need for HR Practices to Retain Older Workers in Health Care Organizations

Klaske N. Veth*, Ben J M Emans, Beatrice I J M Van der Heijden, Hubert P L M Korzilius, Annet H. De Lange

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    14 Citations (Scopus)


    The aims of this article are to (a) examine the prevalence of HR (HRM and HRD) practices to retain older workers in health care organizations; (b) evaluate those HR practices that are specifically designed to facilitate the retention of older workers; and (c) classify those HR practices against the needs of older workers, line managers, and HR professionals. To achieve these aims, 51 interviews were conducted with older workers, line managers, and HR professionals working in 15 Dutch hospitals and care service organizations in late 2010. The study had a mixed-methods setup in that the collected information was partly quantitative (figures about the prevalence and outcomes of practices), and partly qualitative (incorporating illustrative reflections or observations offered by interviewees), the latter complementing the former. Maintenance HR practices (practices that are focused on retaining older workers in their current jobs) appeared to be by far more prevalent compared to development HR practices (practices that are focused on advancement, growth and accomplishment, and that encourage individual workers to achieve new and challenging levels of functioning). In general, both types of HR practices were evaluated as successful by older workers, line managers, and HR professionals. Unexpectedly, the successful evaluations of the maintenance practices appeared to be attributed to developmental rather than maintenance processes. Furthermore, the needs of older workers appeared to be strongly related to both development practices and, although to a lesser degree, maintenance practices. The article concludes with relevant directions for future research.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)53-80
    Number of pages28
    JournalHuman Resource Development Quaterly
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1-Mar-2015


    • Career development
    • Empirical study
    • Employee engagement
    • Human capital
    • Maintenance and development HR (HRM/HRD) practices
    • Mentoring and coaching
    • Mixed-methods study
    • Older workers

    Cite this