Factors influencing leave intentions among older workers: a moderated-mediation model

Timothy Andrew Bentley, Stephen T. Teo, Bevan Catley, Kate Blackwood, Maree Roche, Michael P. O'Driscoll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


The engagement and retention of older workers is a major concern for organisations and has been an increasing focus for human resource scholars internationally. Drawing on social exchange theory (SET), the purpose of this paper is to examine the conditions under which retention and engagement of older workers could be enhanced, together with the potential for perceptions of age discrimination to negatively influence these outcomes.

The study surveyed a large sample of New Zealand workers aged 55 years and over from across 28 New Zealand organisations of varying size and from a wide range of industrial sectors. A moderated-mediation model was proposed to examine the relationship between perceived organisational support (POS) and intention to leave, the mediating effect of job engagement in this relationship, and the moderating influence of perceived age discrimination on this mediation.

While POS was negatively related to workers’ intention to quit, job engagement partially mediated this relationship. Age discrimination moderated this mediation. As perceived age discrimination increased, the mediation of job engagement was weakened as POS had less influence on the job engagement of older workers.

Research limitations/implications
Implications for human resource management practice include the importance of providing organisational support for older workers along with protections from age bias and discrimination.

The study is one of the first to apply SET to the context of older workers, and has extended the SET literature through its examination of the role of employee engagement as a mediator of this relationship, and how perceived age discrimination, as a negative aspect of the work environment, can negatively impact these relationships.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)898-914
Number of pages17
JournalPersonnel Review
Issue number4
Early online date2 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2019
Externally publishedYes


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