Career Development International vol:19 issue:2 pages:183-203
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the role of motivation to work in explaining workers’ pay flexibility – as measured by their reservation wage ratio – across the lifespan. This is important since pay inflexibility may undermine mature age workers’ retention at the workforce.
Design/methodology/approach – Relying on self-determination theory the paper broadens the role of “motivation to work” from the overall work valence an individual attaches to work to the underlying work values (i.e. the perceived value of work for its intrinsic vs extrinsic outcomes) and work motives (i.e. the underlying autonomous vs controlled reasons regulating one’s work participation).
The authors conducted hierarchical linear regression analyses on a sample of 1,577 Belgian workers to explore how individuals’ work values and work motives, in addition to work valence, shape workers’ reservation wage ratios across the lifespan.
Findings – Results indicate that work valence and holding relative intrinsic work values and relative autonomous work motives are associated with lower reservation wage ratios. Finally, age moderates all three relationships. Whereas the negative impact of work valence and relative autonomous
work motives is stronger at older age, the negative impact of relative intrinsic work values is stronger at younger age.
Research limitations/implications – Motivational predictors are differently related to reservation wage ratios across the lifespan.
Practical implications – By fostering overall work valence and autonomous work motivation practitioners can exert influence on mature age workers’ pay flexibility.
Originality/value – This study extends prior research on pay flexibility by focussing on the content of motivation to work (i.e. work values, work motives) and its role across the lifespan.