Can Retaining Older Workers in the Workplace Benefit Organisations in South Africa?

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Schroeder, Julinda
Issue Date
Dublin Business School
The aim of the study was to explore whether retaining older workers in the workplace could benefit organisations in South Africa, against the backdrop of increasing numbers of people around the world being forced to work longer, or return to the workforce after retirement. This was due to socio-economic factors, which were currently being further exacerbated by the global inflationary impact on pensions and savings. Apprehension about losing meaning and purpose in life after retirement were further factors that emerged during the research for this dissertation. The objectives were thus to explore the transitioning of older, senior employees in an organisation to a coaching and mentoring role to potentially help mitigate the serous skills shortage in South Africa. Data collection took the form of seven semi-structured, online interviews with the identified participants in South Africa. The data was analysed using an inductive thematic analysis to describe and interpret the information. The interviewees confirmed that older members of the workforce proved to be a rich source of talent and experience for the organisations that engage them and have, in many instances, become catalysts for change and intergenerational diversity in the workplace. Despite the positive potential of retaining more mature members of the workforce, however, the reality of the current socio-economic situation in South Africa, proved to be far more complex than was anticipated at the outset of the study. To this end, the objectives of this study had to be revisited and some harsh truths had to be acknowledged. Thus, it was found that transitioning more mature members of the workforce to a coaching and mentoring role would require a significant mindset shift and more structured human resource management guidelines and processes to facilitate it.