Age, emotion regulation strategies, burnout, and engagement in the service sector: Advantages of older workers

Sheena J. Johnson, Sabine Machowski, Lynn Holdsworth, Marcel Kern, Dieter Zapf, Dieter Zapf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Organizations face a progressively ageing workforce and jobs with direct customer contact are growing, creating challenging issues from a human resource management perspective. Drawing on socioemotional selectivity theory and lifespan development findings, this study focuses on the research gap in the service sector with regard to age, emotional labour, and associated positive and negative outcomes. Analyses using data from 444 service employees in Germany revealed age is negatively directly related to exhaustion and cynicism, and positively directly related to professional efficacy, as well as positively directly linked to engagement. Additionally, age predicts less burnout and more engagement indirectly through the use of the emotion regulation strategies surface acting and anticipative deep acting. This provides evidence against the general deficit hypothesis of age, which assumes a decline of employee skills and abilities with age. We find no evidence that older workers are worse than younger workers, with older workers using positive emotion regulation strategies, being more engaged and less burnt out.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-216
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Work and Organizational Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017


  • burnout
  • emotion regulation
  • emotional labour
  • engagement
  • older workers

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Work and Equalities Institute
  • Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing


Dive into the research topics of 'Age, emotion regulation strategies, burnout, and engagement in the service sector: Advantages of older workers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this