Sustainable Employment


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In the article by Karen van Dam, Tinka van Vuuren and Sofie Kemps (2016), the authors delve into the issue of sustainable employment in the wake of an ageing workforce. The authors’ study reveals that offering intrinsic job value is necessary to promote sustainable employment. They further argue that for older employees, an age-supportive work environment helps promote work commitment and engagement. In this review, it is argued that whereas the arguments provided in the article are to an extent valid, the best way to offer a supportive working environment for all ages is through training. 

The main argument of the authors is that job, and work design is important elements that promote motivation, commitment and development among employees, especially the older employees (van Dam, et al., p. 15). They argue that some of the key aspects that relate to sustainable employment are recognition, learning value, meaningfulness and challenge (van Dam et al., p. 16). Although these arguments are valid, the authors omit an important factor in promoting sustainable employment- training. For both young and older employees, training is such an important element that will enhance the competence of the workers at all levels throughout the organization. 

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Based on the ideas of the author, a recruitment program should be designed such that older employees should be offered challenging and lucrative positions, sometimes at the expense of the younger employees. If these ideas were to be implemented, it is likely that a productive younger workforce would be locked away as the organization attempts to please the older employees. It is my opinion that all employees should be given equal opportunities for development and growth through training. The authors rightfully point out that organizations should harness the experience and knowledge of older employees to enhance organizational development (van Dam et al., p. 16). However, this harnessing should be done in a way that promotes the welfare of younger employees. If the authors’ ideas are employed on a global conglomerate, it is likely that countries with a higher percentage of older employees or experts would be dominated by older employees, thereby locking away the younger talent. 

The creation of a supportive environment for older employees is a positive thing for all organizations, but this approach alone has long term consequences. Training is the older strategy that will ensure all employees are equipped with skills and knowledge that make them suitable for their jobs. More importantly, through training, an organization can effectively transfer the knowledge of the older employees onto, the younger employees. 

In conclusion, this review has taken the position that offering age-supportive practices in an organization promote employment sustainability, but this is likely to have a negative effect on younger employees. The best strategy to adopt is to develop effective training and development opportunities for all employees across the organization. This way, even the younger employees have the chance to move up the ladder and compete with the experienced workers. This helps to promote the long-term growth of the organization. 

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  1. Karen van Dam, Tinka van Vuuren & Sofie Kemps (2016).Sustainable employment: the importance of intrinsically valuable work and an age-supportive climate. The International Journal of Human Resource Management.
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