Conceal or reveal? Facilitators and barriers to older workers' communication of accommodation needs

Reasons for the study

Canadian baby boomers are living and working longer than any previous generation. As they grow older, people may experience changes in their health, personal responsibilities and/or career trajectory that affect their employment experiences and needs for support in the workplace. Currently, there is little data examining how older workers (50-plus years) make decisions about whether or not to communicate their job accommodation needs and, if so, to whom, when and how. This study is exploring the barriers and facilitators to the communication of accommodation needs by older workers.

Objectives of the study

  • To understand the reasons older workers choose to communicate or not communicate their personal needs for accommodation, support or training/development
  • To examine factors related to the content, timing and goals of communicating these accommodation needs
  • To examine the relationships among facets of communication (e.g. reasons, timing, recipients of disclosure), support and employment outcomes

Anticipated results/impact

This research is relevant to older workers, employers, human resources professionals, disability managers, occupational health professionals, insurers, government bodies and community organizations focused on aging, employment, disability and/or caregiving. The findings may help inform workplace practices and policies that help older workers sustain their employment, allowing them to take advantage of the financial, personal and social benefits of work.

Project status


Research team

Monique Gignac, Institute for Work & Health (PI)
Arif Jetha, Institute for Work & Health
Agnieszka Kosny, Institute for Work & Health
Vicki Kristman, Institute for Work & Health
Jill Cameron, University of Toronto

Funded by

Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada