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Curvilinear Relationships Between Age and Job Performance and the Role of Job Complexity

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journal contribution
posted on 2024-03-26, 15:40 authored by Maria Karanika-Murray, Marc Van Veldhoven, George Michaelides, Thom Baguley, Dimitra Gkiontsi, Natalie Harrison
Despite suggestions that work performance varies with age, the empirical evidence is inconclusive and contradictory. Possible reasons for this are the lack of differentiation between different types of performance and a naive assumption of a negative linear relationship between age and task performance across the working lifespan. With this study we question and revisit these expectations. We take a lifespan perspective to explore differential and curvilinear relationships between age (measured as chronological age) and three types of task performance (task proficiency, proactivity, and adaptivity), moderated by job complexity (measured as cognitive demands). Using Bayesian polynomial regression on survey data from 903 employees, we tested the relationships between age and each performance type, with job complexity as a moderator. The data indicated a U-shaped age–adaptivity relationship (main effects for job complexity) and an S-shaped age–proactivity relationship that was more pronounced under low job complexity (interaction effect). We identify the turning points for these changes, which show midlife as a critical period for changes in performance where the job context itself shapes the gradient and direction of these changes. Our findings provide crucial evidence that different types of job performance vary by age and the role of perceived job complexity in explaining trajectories in proactivity and adaptivity. Implications for job design, organizational interventions, and human resource management are discussed.

Funding

This work was supported by the European Union Programme for Employment and Social Solidarity - PROGRESS (2007–2013), implemented by the European Commission (grant number VP/2012/007/0503 to M. Karanika-Murray & T. Baguley)

History

Author affiliation

School of Psychology and Vision Science, University of Leicester

Version

  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Published in

Work, Aging and Retirement

Publisher

Oxford University Press (OUP)

issn

2054-4642

eissn

2054-4650

Copyright date

2022

Available date

2024-03-26

Editors

Truxillo D

Language

en

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