Relationship between Social Support and Well-being in Those over 50 Leaving Career Employment

By Eleanor Lester.

Published by The International Journal of Aging and Society

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

An increase in aging baby boomers, longer lifespans, and organizational pressures over the past 15 years have contributed to an increasing over 50 workforce pursuing bridge employment. Little research exists on older worker adjustment after leaving long-term career employment. Hobfoll’s conservation of resources and Lazarus’s stress, appraisal, and coping theories provided framework for this quantitative study examining and comparing adjustment of those who leave voluntarily, with those who leave involuntarily, pursuing work in career and noncareer occupations. Research questions addressed variation among these groups in adjustment as indicated in well-being and the relationship between social support and well-being where well-being consisted of affective and cognitive factors. Cross-sectional convenience sampling provided data for this study drawn from professional and managerial workers. Data analysis methods included comparison of subgroups through MANOVA and multiple regression. Results indicated positive affect and life satisfaction were higher and negative affect lower in the first 2 years after leave for older workers who left voluntarily compared with those who left involuntarily; positive and negative affect improved over 4 years for those who left involuntarily pursuing a career occupation; appraisal social support was evident for those who left voluntarily; self-esteem social support was evident for those who left involuntarily; social support had the highest predictability for well-being in those who left involuntarily pursuing a career occupation. Comparatively, those who left involuntarily pursuing a noncareer occupation experienced low well-being and no improvement over 4 years. These results suggest social change is necessary in supporting underemployed older workers through organization and government policy governing older worker career development and transition; those under 50 have evidence suggesting planning of later-life career transitions is important to later-life well-being; and researchers interested in underemployment in older workers have evidence suggesting well-being is less with employment in noncareer occupations.

Keywords: Cognitive Appraisal, Bridge Employment, Job Loss, Adjustment, Well-being, Social Support, Older Worker

The International Journal of Aging and Society, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp.53-72. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 507.021KB).

Dr. Eleanor Lester

Consultant - Metanoia Inc., Walden University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Eleanor Lester recently received her Ph.D. in the School of Management and Technology at Walden University with a focus on Organizational Change and Leadership. Her Master's degree was in Computer Science from the University of Toronto. This paper is based on her Ph.D. dissertation. She is an organizational consultant and coach and deeply interested in the interplay of cognition and emotion and the meaning of work for those over 50.