Age-related differences in work motivation


Ilke Inceoglu, SHL Group Ltd, The Pavilion, 1 Atwell Place, Thames Ditton KT7 0NE, UK (e-mail:


This paper examines age-related differences in work motivation in two samples of 9,388 and 2,512 individuals who completed a comprehensive motivation questionnaire for selection or development purposes. In the first sample, age differences were examined by controlling for gender and investigating whether relationships between age and motivation were non-linear. Statistically significant relationships between motivation and age were found for most motivation scales, explaining up to 12% of the variance in specific scales. The second sample was used to confirm these results and to determine whether differences on these motivation scales could be explained by additional demographic variables, which were not available in the first sample. When controlling for demographic variables, such as gender, managerial experience, and university education, the pattern of results was similar in the second data set although effects were smaller. Results generally support propositions from the literature, which suggest a shift in people's motives rather than a general decline in motivation with age: older employees were less motivated by extrinsically but more by intrinsically rewarding job features.