The importance of retaining older people in the workforce has been widely recognised as an EU policy goal and is linked to a wide range of economic and social benefits relating to knowledge and skills, financial security, health and social inclusion.

There is also long-established evidence that health, job satisfaction and engagement are enhanced when employees are empowered and respected at work. A recently established project, ‘Workage’, suggests that these factors also influence the retirement decisions of older workers.

Workage is a three year EU-funded project testing the proposition that the engagement and retention of employees aged 50+ will be improved by enhancing employee voice and empowering workplace practices for everyone.  It focuses on removing obstacles to achieving a healthy and productive workforce.  It asks: “What engages you to the organization?  What disengages you?

The project aims to raise policymakers’ and employers’ awareness by demonstrating that targeted workplace interventions to improve job design and work organisation will facilitate enhanced engagement and retention of older workers.

The research is predicated on the knowledge that some older workers start to lose enthusiasm for their job in their final years of employment and may even bring their retirement plans forward as a result. It aims to develop new strategies to help organisations re-engage with their older employees to the benefit of both the organisation and the individual.

Workage is facilitating the transformation of work practices and cultures in two pilot sites: the maternity service in the Southern Health & Social Care Trust, Northern Ireland, and the Place Division, Stoke on Trent City Council.

Interventions are focused on job design, self-organised teamworking, continuous improvement, high involvement innovation, workplace partnership and employee voice in strategic decision making.

The carefully measured outcomes will be of considerable interest to policymakers, employers, trade unions, researchers and others across Europe with an interest in active ageing, employee engagement, workforce health and workplace innovation. 

The Workage partnership led by Nottingham Trent University and Workplace Innovation Limited, part of the UK Work Organisation Network (UK WON) includes a wide range of expert organisations, social partners including trade unions and policymakers ensuring widespread dissemination of project outcomes.

Updates based on early findings will be available in the summer. If you are interested in finding out more, have experiences to share or would like to contribute to on line discussions, please get in touch via .