Centre for Economic Transformation | CET

The deployment of enriched capacities

the rights of older workers


The basic assumption in this article is that growing older does not mean only, or even necessarily, a decline in one’s labour capacities.

Some capacities increase over the years, although this development is clearly not the same for each and every individual. The older workers’ “enriched” capabilities are determined by certain aspects of job design. Older employees find, however, that their ability to learn and grow is hardly respected or addressed by their employer. Through action research in collaboration with a team of older female care workers with low educational levels, a new learning process was launched in a health care institution. The programme was designed in line with the team’s own needs and experience. Thus, the initiative and learning demand lay with the participants. Their experiences and interests were key to the learning programme, which consisted of experimental and collective learning with the opportunity of self-direction. With the development of their capacities in the job and their improved performance, a change arose both in the employment relationship (the delegation of power and a more coaching oriented management style) and in the work content (the possibility of organising and cooperating in order to solve problems together). Due to new cutbacks and quality requirements in the standardisation of care processes, however, most of the changes have since disappeared.

Reference Zinsmeister, J., & Meerman, M. (2013). The deployment of enriched capacities: the rights of older workers. Journal of Workplace Rights, 17(3), 303-318. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/271728630_The_Deployment_of_Enriched_Capacities_The_Rights_of_Older_Workers
Published by  CAREM 1 January 2013

Publication date

Jan 2013


Martha Meerman


Research database