Despite factors like high work pressure and low job satisfaction also playing a role, a new study has revealed that poor health is the most primary reason why some workers decide to throw in the towel and take early retirement.
Added support and changes in leadership style might help to delay retirement in highly skilled older workers, according to the study by Tilja I.J. van den Berg, M.Sc., and colleagues of Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
In a review of eight previous studies, poor health was the factor most consistently related to early retirement. Several other work-related factors also seemed to play a role, including high physical work demands, high work pressure, and low job satisfaction.
The study also included focus group interviews with older workers in the printing industry-which has a highly skilled but rapidly aging workforce. The printers agreed that poor health would make them consider retiring early. Other factors that could push them toward early retirement included heavy workload, shift work, and lack of support from co-workers and management.
When asked about incentives that would encourage them to postpone retirement, the workers mentioned increased support from co-workers and appreciation from management. Since they appreciated the importance of good health in preventing early retirement, they also mentioned steps that would help them to stay fit, such as access to a worksite gym.
The new study identifies health- and work-related factors leading to early retirement, along with factors that could help to keep valued older workers on the job-sometimes as simple as a 'pat on the back' to express appreciation. "Postponing early retirement could be facilitated by reducing workload, increasing social support from colleagues, appreciative and supportive leadership, and health promotion," the researchers said.
The study has been published in the journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.