The Moderating Role of Formal and Informal Relations on the Effect of Career Intervention on Work Engagement among Older Workers

Markku Jokisaari, Jukka Vuori


Aging workforce presents increasing demands for organizations to develop age-specific practices in order to engage older workers. Unfortunately, to our knowledge only few studies have focused on interventions designed to support older workers at work. Furthermore, research is also needed to examine boundary conditions of interventions among older workers, i.e. who benefit from the intervention and related training. Thus, we were interested in to examine to what extent older workers’ career networks and the quality of the relationship with the supervisor define boundary conditions for the effect of the career intervention on work engagement. More specifically, an earlier study showed that career management preparedness mediated the effect of the intervention on older workers’ work engagement. By capitalizing on data collected from the same sample, we extend this earlier finding by examining to what extent the characteristics of career networks and the relationship with the supervisor moderate the relation between the intervention and work engagement. Older workers (a mean age of 58) who participated in randomized controlled trial (RCT) in seventeen organizations also filled in measures related to the quality of the relationship with the supervisor (leader-member exchange, LMX; Time 1), career networks (Time 1) and work engagement (Time 3, N = 586). We indicated the characteristics of the career networks by relations within one’s organization, strength of ties, upper reachability and network density. The preliminary results indicate that relations within the organization and upper reachability moderated the effect of the career intervention on work engagement. Specifically, the intervention increased work engagement among older workers whose career networks included fewer relations within one’s organization and contacts at higher organizational levels.

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