Mental demands and thriving of older workers: The role of work ability

Main Article Content

Inês C. Sousa
Daniela Baltazar


The aging of the working population and the increasing mental demands at work represent a challenge to the sustainability of working life and the organizations’ competitiveness. Research has focused on thriving at work as a proxy for career sustainability, particularly
in its final phase. However, there is limited knowledge about the mechanisms underlying the relationship between thriving and its antecedents. This study aims to examine the mediating role of work ability in the relationship between mental demands at work and
thriving among older workers. A sample of 163 workers responded to an online questionnaire. Results support the mediation hypothesis, but the direct effect of mental demands on thriving was insignificant, emphasizing the importance of work ability. Theoretical and practical
implications are discussed.


Download data is not yet available.


Metrics Loading ...

Article Details

How to Cite
SOUSA, I. C.; BALTAZAR, D. Mental demands and thriving of older workers: The role of work ability. RAE - Revista de Administracao de Empresas , [S. l.], v. 64, n. 1, p. e2023–0191, 2023. DOI: 10.1590/S0034-759020240102. Disponível em: Acesso em: 14 jun. 2024.


Abbasi, A. A., & Bordia, P. (2019). Thinking, young and old: Cognitive job demands and strain across the lifespan. Work, Aging and Retirement, 5(1), 91-113.

Abid, G., & Contreras, F. (2022). Mapping thriving at work as a growing concept: Review and directions for future studies. Information, 13(8), 383.

Akkermans, J., Richardson, J., & Kraimer, M. L. (2020). The Covid-19 crisis as a career shock: Implications for careers and vocational behavior. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 119, 103434.

Bakker, A. B., & Demerouti, E. (2007). The job demands-resources model: State of the art. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 22(3), 309-328.

Billett, S., Dymock, D., Johnson, G., & Martin, G. (2011). Overcoming the paradox of employers’ views about older workers. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 22(6), 1248-1261.

Boehm, S. A., Schröder, H., & Bal, M. (2021). Age-related human resource management policies and practices: Antecedents, outcomes, and conceptualizations. Work, Aging and Retirement, 7(4), 257-272.

Boissonneault, M., Mulders, J. O., Turek, K., & Carriere, Y. (2020). A systematic review of causes of recent increases in ages of labor market exit in OECD countries. PLoS ONE, 15(4), e0231897.

Brady, G. M., Truxillo, D. M., Cadiz, D. M., Rineer, J. R., Caughlin, D. E., & Bodner, T. (2020). Opening the black box: Examining the nomological network of work ability and its role in organizational research. Journal of Applied Psychology, 105(6), 637-670.

Cadiz, D. M., Brady, G., Rineer, J. R., & Truxillo, D. M. (2019). A review and synthesis of the work ability literature. Work, Aging and Retirement, 5(1), 114-138.

Carvalho, V. S., & Chambel, M. J. (2014). Work-to-family enrichment and employees’ well-being: High performance work system and job characteristics. Social Indicators Research, 119, 373-387.

Demerouti, E., & Bakker, A. B. (2011). The job demands-resources model: Challenges for future research. SA Journal of Industrial Psychology, 37(2), 1-9.

Fornell, C., & Larcker, D. F. (1981). Evaluating structural equation models with unobservable variables and measurement error. Journal of Marketing Research, 18(1), 39-50.

Goh, Z., Eva, N., Kiazad, K., Jack, G. A., Cieri, H. De, & Spreitzer, G. M. (2022). An integrative multilevel review of thriving at work: Assessing progress and promise. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 43(2), 197-213.

Hair, J. F., Black, W. C., Babin, B. J., & Anderson, R. E. (2010). Multivariate data analysis: A global perspective (7ª ed.). Prentice Hall.

Hakanen, J. J., Ropponen, A., Witte, H. De, & Schaufeli, W. B. (2019). Testing demands and resources as determinants of vitality among different employment contract groups: A study in 30 European countries. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16(24), 4951.

Heijden, B. Van der, De Vos, A., Akkermans, J., Spurk, D., Semeijn, J., Velde, M. Van der, & Fugate, M. (2020). Sustainable careers across the lifespan: Moving the field forward. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 117, 103344.

Henkens, K. (2022). Forge healthy pathways to retirement with employer practices: A multilevel perspective. Work, Aging and Retirement, 8(1), 1-6.

Henkens, K., Dalen, H. P. Van, Ekerdt, D. J., Hershey, D. A., Hyde, M., Radl, J., Solinge, H. van, Wang, M., & Zacher, H. (2018). What we need to know about retirement: Pressing issues for the coming decade. The Gerontologist, 58(5), 805-812.

Henseler, J., Ringle, C. M., & Sarstedt, M. (2015). A new criterion for assessing discriminant validity in variance-based structural equation modeling. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 43, 115-135.

Ilmarinen, J., & Bonsdorff, M. von. (2016). Work ability. In S. K. Whitbourne (Ed.), The encyclopedia of adulthood and aging (Vol. 3, pp. 1441-1445). John Wiley & Sons.

Jiang, Z., Jiang, Y., & Nielsen, I. (2019). Workplace thriving in China. International Journal of Manpower, 40(5), 979-993.

Johnson, R. W., Mermin, G. B. T., & Resseger, M. (2011). Job demands and work ability at older ages. Journal of Aging and Social Policy, 23, 101-118.

Karasek, R., Brisson, C., Kawakami, N., Houtman, I., Bongers, P., & Amick, B. (1998). The Job Content Questionnaire (JCQ): An instrument for internationally comparative assessments of psychosocial job characteristics. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 3(4), 322–355.

Kleine, A. K., Rudolph, C. W., Schmitt, A., & Zacher, H. (2023). Thriving at work: An investigation of the independent and joint effects of vitality and learning on employee health. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 32(1), 95-106

Kleine, A. K., Rudolph, C. W., & Zacher, H. (2019). Thriving at work: A meta‐analysis. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 40(9-10), 973-999.

McGonagle, A. K., Barnes-Farrell, J. L., Di Milia, L., Fischer, F. M., Hobbs, B. B. B., Iskra-Golec, I., Kaliterna, L., & Smith, L. (2013). Demands, resources, and work ability: A cross-national examination of health care workers. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 23(6), 830-846.

McGonagle, A. K., Fisher, G. G., Barnes-Farrell, J. L., & Grosch, J. W. (2015). Individual and work factors related to perceived work ability and labor force outcomes. Journal of Applied Psychology, 100(2), 376-398.

Nações Unidas. (2019). World population ageing 2019.

Niessen, C., Sonnentag, S., & Sach, F. (2012). Thriving at work—A diary study. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 33(4), 468-487.

Organização Mundial de Saúde. (2022). World mental health report: Transforming mental health for all.

Picco, E., Gragnano, A., Daghini, A., & Miglioretti, M. (2022). Systematic review of intervention studies to foster sustainable employability core components: Implications for workplace promotion. Sustainability, 14(6), 3300.

Podsakoff, P. M., MacKenzie, S. B., Lee, J.-Y., & Podsakoff, N. P. (2003). Common method biases in behavioral research: A critical review of the literature and recommended remedies. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88(5), 879-903.

Porath, C., Spreitzer, G., Gibson, C., & Garnett, F. G. (2012). Thriving at work: Toward its measurement, construct validation, and theoretical refinement. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 33(2), 250-275.

Pordata. (2023). Taxa de emprego: Total e por grupo etário.

Prem, R., Ohly, S., Kubicek, B., & Korunka, C. (2017). Thriving on challenge stressors? Exploring time pressure and learning demands as antecedents of thriving at work. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 38(1), 108-123.

Sluiter, J. K. (2006). High-demand jobs: Age-related diversity in work ability? Applied Ergonomics, 37(4), 429-440.

Sousa, I. C., Ramos, S., & Carvalho, H. (2019). Age-diversity practices and retirement preferences among older workers: A moderated mediation model of work engagement and work ability. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 1937.

Spreitzer, G., Porath, C. L., & Gibson, C. B. (2012). Toward human sustainability: How to enable more thriving at work. Organizational Dynamics, 41(2), 155-162.

Spreitzer, G., Sutcliffe, K., Dutton, J., Sonenshein, S., & Grant, A. M. (2005). A socially embedded model of thriving at work. Organization Science, 16(5), 537-549.

Taneva, S. K., & Arnold, J. (2018). Thriving, surviving and performing in late career: A mixed-method study of pathways to successful aging in organizations. Work, Aging and Retirement, 4(2), 189-212.

Vos, A. De, & Heijden, B. I. Van der. (2017). Current thinking on contemporary careers: The key roles of sustainable HRM and sustainability of careers. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 28, 41-50.

Vos, A. De, Heijden, B. I. J. M. Van der, & Akkermans, J. (2020). Sustainable careers: Towards a conceptual model. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 117, 103196.

Tuomi, K., Huuhtanen, P., Nykyri, E., & Ilmarinen, J. (2001). Promotion of work ability, the quality of work and retirement. Occupational Medicine, 51(5), 318-324.

Yang, Y., & Li, X. (2021). The impact of challenge and hindrance stressors on thriving at work double mediation based on affect and motivation. Frontiers in Psychology, 12, 613871.