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Extending working lives: age management in SMEs.

Fuertes, Vanesa; Egdell, Valerie; McQuaid, Ronald W


Vanesa Fuertes

Valerie Egdell

Ronald W McQuaid


Structured Abstract:
Purpose: This paper presents a study of age management in small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK.
Design/methodology/approach: Qualitative data collection and exploratory research with six SMEs comprising of:
initial interviews with representatives from the SMEs; action research activities designed to raise awareness of age
management issues and age discrimination legislation; and follow up interviews to ascertain if awareness raising
activities resulted in any changes, or planned changes, in policy, practice and attitudes towards older workers.
Findings: Good practice in age management can be found in SMEs, but was not found to be part of a systematic
strategy. Negative practices and attitudes towards older workers are observed, with positive and negative age
stereotypes coexisting. Negative stereotypes displayed can undermine the perceived economic value of older workers.
There may be a gap between policy and practice, but awareness raising campaigns that reach employers can
influence existing ways of working by showing the benefits of an age diverse workforce and helping reduce prejudices
against older workers.
Research limitations/implications: The sample size is small and context specific. However, the study usefully
illustrates different approaches to age management policies and practices in SMEs, and the potential benefits of age
management awareness in influencing attitudes and practices towards older workers in SMEs.
Originality/value: The experience of age management in SMEs is under researched and examples of good practice
in age management are often drawn from large organisations. The paper highlights that SMEs often lack the resources
to seek advice regarding age management; therefore, those responsible for age management awareness raising
activities may need to approach businesses directly.


Fuertes, V., Egdell, V., & McQuaid, R. W. (2013). Extending working lives: age management in SMEs. Employee Relations, 35, 272-293.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Apr 20, 2013
Deposit Date May 27, 2013
Print ISSN 0142-5455
Electronic ISSN 1758-7069
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 35
Pages 272-293
Keywords Age management; ageing population; human resource management; older workers; small to medium-sized enterprises; United Kingdom;
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