Considering the enormous changes in work practices and associated training required to address the needs of new practices, there has been very little research undertaken that attempts to describe how workers perceive these changes. This paper reports on the findings of 40 participants aged over 40 years of age, who were interviewed and observed to obtain data concerning their conceptions of work with regard to the changes occurring around them. The participants were from a medical service and an engineering organisation. The data were analysed qualitatively to investigate workers' conceptions of work. Results indicate four hierarchical conceptions of work, with the distribution of the participants' conceptions more towards the lower levels. The conceptions provide baseline data to understand workers' behaviour in light of current changes in work practices.
Against a background of population ageing, and with it, concomitant effects on social welfare systems and labour markets, public policy makers in affected nations are seeking ways of pushing out the final age of withdrawal from their labour markets. Central to such efforts is promoting the contribution of older workers to organizations and overcoming labour market age barriers. Within this advocacy approach there has been recent interest in identifying and promulgating examples of employer best practice in order to emphasize new dimensions of the business case for employing older workers. Drawing on literature concerned with advocating an ethical concern in human resource management as it pertains to older workers, this article examines an exemplar set of employer case studies aimed at promulgating best practice. It considers the concept of age management and its manifestations to argue that many standard HRM practices are firmly, although probably unwittingly, grounded in ageist assumptions concerning the capacities, potentiality and contributions of both younger and older workers. This, we argue, is a consequence of an unnecessarily narrow conception of good employment practice based in an economic rationality that is not conducive to the effective management of age in organizations.