Always on Call: Is There an Age Advantage in Dealing with Availability and Response Expectations?

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This research challenges the technology-related age stereotype that older employees might be disadvantaged in dealing with work-related information communication technology (ICT) demands. Rather, we hypothesize an age advantage in this regard. Based on theorizing on aging at work, we suggest that older employees are better at psychologically detaching from work under high availability expectations and that they show more adaptive responsiveness to response expectations. We examined a potential age-related mechanism underlying this effect, namely internal workplace telepressure. We pursued a two-study approach. Study 1 examined data from 5,938 individuals who participated in a large-scale survey of employees in Germany just before the COVID-19 pandemic, testing age as moderator of the relationship between availability expectations and psychological detachment from work. Results supported the hypothesized age advantage effect showing that for older employees, availability expectations were less strongly related to impaired psychological detachment. Study 2, a diary study with 106 participants answering more than 500 daily surveys during the pandemic, supported lower telepressure as explanation for this age advantage effect. Study 2 further extended this finding to the relationship of response expectations with responsiveness, identifying both age and telepressure as predicted by age to moderate this relationship. This research shows age advantage effects in dealing with ICT demands, enhancing understanding of the intersection between age and technology use at work.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWork, Aging and Retirement
Number of pages16
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 03.11.2022