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483 A snapshot of 3887 belgian employee’s work-ability: a comparison between age groups
  1. Sofie Vandenbroeck1,2,
  2. Liesbeth Aerts1,
  3. Liesbeth Daenen1,3,
  4. Lieve Vandersmissen,
  5. Lode Godderis1,2
  1. 1Knowledge, Information and Research Centre, IDEWE Group (External Service for Prevention and Protection at Work), Leuven, Belgium
  2. 2Environment and Health, Faculty of Medicine, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
  3. 3Department of Rehabilitation Sciences and Physiotherapy, Human Physiology and Anatomy (KIMA), Faculty of Physical Education and Physiotherapy, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium


Introduction Working life will increase due to a raise of the legal retirement age. Yet, its success will depend on the willingness and ability of workers to remain at work. Work-ability, the backbone of sustainable employability, should therefore continuously be monitored and promoted. Work-ability is determined by health and functional capacities; competences; values, attitudes and motivation; work, work community and leadership. Evidence shows that health, functional capacities and work (community) affect work-ability the most. Work-ability and both latter factors were therefore assessed in a large sample of employees and compared between younger and older workers.

Methods A cross-sectional study was performed in 100 Belgian companies. The online questionnaire ‘Wellfie’ was used, which is based on the ‘house of work-ability’. The tool consists of validated scales assessing work-ability using four questions of the work-ability index (Range: 1: very bad to 5: very good), lifestyle (diseases) and physical burden. Descriptive statistics were performed using frequencies and equality of proportions was analysed using Chi-square.

Result 3887 participants completed Wellfie (i.e. 67% female, 33% male; 60% age <45, 40% age ≥45). Their current work-ability was similar (Mean: 3.90), yet the predicted work-ability in the upcoming two years was significantly lower in the upper age group (Mean: 4.10 versus 3.95; p<0.05). Employees of 45 years or more reported more musculoskeletal disorders affecting their work (27.7% versus 16.7%), episodes of burnout or depression (17.5% versus 13%; p<0.05) and lifestyle diseases such as diabetes (2.4% versus 1.1; p<0.05), arterial hypertension (25.9% versus 10%; p<0.05) and cardiovascular diseases (10% versus 4.6; p<0.05). The reported amount of physical burden (e.g. repetitive movements, lifting) is comparable between age groups.

Discussion Ageing goes along with a higher risk for chronic diseases and comorbidities affecting employee’s work-ability. Employers should therefore invest more in a health promotion policy for all workers.

  • Sustainable employability
  • Ageing
  • Health

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