EurWORK European Observatory of Working Life

Older employees cite stress and fatigue as biggest problems at work

About

Country: 
Lithuania
Author: 
Rasa Zabarauskaite
Institution: 
Institute of Labour and Social Research

In 2005, a survey was carried out on the status of employees approaching retirement in Lithuanian companies. The key objective was to increase labour market accessibility for pre-pension individuals in the Utena and Vilnius counties of eastern Lithuania, and to combat any discrimination towards them at work. The survey results showed that pre-pension employees were adequately integrated within the staff community, competent in their professional spheres and interested in improving their qualifications.

Within the framework of the European Community EQUAL Initiative project Support network for reintegration into the labour market in the Utena and Vilnius counties, a survey was carried out in 2005. It aimed at identifying the status of pre-pension employees in companies in these two regions in eastern Lithuania, the difficulties and problems faced by these employees, and the attitude of other colleagues towards them.

A total of two groups of respondents were interviewed as part of the survey:

  • pre-pension employees;
  • colleagues of pre-pension employees.

For the purpose of the survey, employees aged 50 years and over were considered pre-pension employees.

Research methodology

A questionnaire was used as the key method of the survey. Questions were posed to respondents at two large Lithuanian establishments: the private drinks producer Anykščių Vynas and the administration of the Visaginas Town Municipality (Visagino miesto savivaldybė). Some 295 employees work in Anykščių Vynas, while 109 staff are employed in the administration of the Visaginas Town Municipality.

Pre-pension employees accounted for 21.7% of personnel in Anykščių Vynas and for 26.6% of the administration of the Visaginas Town Municipality. In total, 102 respondents were surveyed: 44 pre-pension employees and 58 of their colleagues. The survey was conducted in October 2005.

Survey findings

Most of the respondents in this group were aged from 50 to 60 years. Some 84.1% of respondents stated that they had sufficient competence in terms of theoretical and practical knowledge to perform their work. In addition, the majority of respondents, at 88.6%, reported that they had sufficient energy in terms of physical strength to carry out their work tasks.

The survey showed that the majority of respondents (86.4%) were fully satisfied with their relations both with their employer and colleagues. In all, just 13.6% of respondents reported partial satisfaction with their relations with their employer and colleagues.

Difficulties faced by older workers

The survey also sought to determine the difficulties faced by older employees at work. It revealed that these employees mainly suffered from tiredness and stress at work (see Figure).

Difficulties faced by pre-pension employees at work (%)

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Source: Survey on the status of pre-pension employees in Lithuanian companies, 2005

Difficulties faced by pre-pension employees at work (%)

The respondents identified psychological stress and reduced physical strength as the main reasons causing difficulties at work. This was fully or partially supported by 70.5% and 65.9% of the respondents, respectively. Most respondents stated that they would like to work fewer hours, while about one fifth of those surveyed partially agreed with the idea of working fewer hours.

The majority of the older respondents viewed positively opportunities to improve their professional skills or qualifications; as many as 68.2% of these workers agreed to improve their professional skills. Moreover, the survey results showed that pre-pension employees preferred to stay in the labour market as long as possible.

Views of younger colleagues

Younger colleagues of pre-pension employees were also surveyed in order to gain a wider perspective of the status of the older employees.

Most of these respondents (72.4%) reported that their older colleagues were perfectly capable of performing their duties at work. About one fourth of the respondents believed that the older employees faced certain problems at work, such as lack of flexibility and effort. According to the respondents, difficulties were most often faced by pre-pension individuals employed in areas related to information technologies (IT) and accounting.

More than one third of the respondents (36.2%) felt that – despite their impressive work experience – pre-pension employees needed to refresh their professional skills or qualifications. About half of the respondents, at 51.7%, were of the opinion that the older employees were only partly interested in improving their professional skills. Moreover, 46.6% of the respondents suggested that improving professional skills and qualifications would help pre-pension employees to cope more easily with their work tasks.

Younger colleagues also identified the problems most often faced – in their view – by employees of pre-pension age. These problems were similar to those listed by the older employees themselves, namely, reduced physical strength, psychological stress and tiredness.

Rasa Zabarauskaite, Institute of Labour and Social Research