Following the discussion on “What is age? And what does ageing means?” I have some thoughts to share.
Frail, slow and incompetent are typical stereotypes that people have of the aged. I myself do not recall seeing my 88 years old grandma needing her children or grandchildren to help her around. She is strong enough just to climb the mountain behind her house every morning back at her hometown in Malaysia. I am sure some of you could recall memories of how your grandparents are more than able to help you carry your school bag and chase you around when you were little.
Looking back to our daily life, how many older workers do we observe serving in the front line of those Food and beverage outlets. Go to the park this weekend and you will see many grandpas and grandmas jogging even faster and for longer duration than most of the young people we see out there.
BUT what does ageing really means?
According to Laura Carstensen in her Ted talk title “Older people are happier”, the upsides of ageing are the following:
#1 More Appreciative
This means that older people could be easily satisfied and motivated with the little effort that the organization is making for them. Hence, they tend to be loyal.
#2More open to reconciliation
This is good news for employers as older employees are open to negotiations in terms of salary, working hours, etc. Moreover, this also means that they are more prone to work harmoniously with their colleagues and bosses.
#3 Increase in Emotional Intelligence(EQ)
It is proven by research that EQ increases as we aged. Thus, older workers are more able to handle their emotions well and are happier at work.
Money as a motivator for older workers?
Think again. Yes maybe to a certain extend money could motivate older workers because with the increase in life expectancy, people are now more in need of money to support themselves through retirement.
However, companies could think in other area such as the ergonomics initiative Alexandra hospital has introduced. I will like to applaud the hospital for their efforts as they are actually killing two birds with one stone. Not only do the older employees enjoy a safer working environment, patients enjoy the benefits as well because they are served more efficiently. Furthermore, having retained the older workers whom are mostly fluent in dialect, the hospital could communicate better with their elderly patients.
Upon mentioning that older worker is more open to reconciliation, organizations do have to beware that they are also less tolerant of injustice as mentioned by Laura in her Ted talk. Hence, organisation should make sure they have procedural and distributional justice in their human resource policies and practices. Compensation should be fair after adjustment of workload and work hours of the senior workers.
There are many initiatives adopted by the government which promotes active ageing. Even the elderly themselves are taking the initiatives to upgrade themselves whether is it learning English or using the Internet. But what organisations have done over the years is laying these workers first-hand right when the organisation is facing trouble. Like it or not, many countries in the world including Taiwan, Japan and Singapore are facing an ageing population. Hence, it is up to the organization to decide whether spending resources into upgrading and retaining their experienced senior workers is a necessary or a cost to the company.
Just to end off a little off topic. A few weeks back while we were on the topic on Nudges, Prof Audrey mentioned in class on how we could encourage a healthier lifestyle in NUS. As an advocate for healthy living, I do have an interesting point to suggest.
Since we were saying that it is very unhealthy for students to sit in the seminar class for 3 hours, why don’t we consider bringing exercise to class? The chairs could be replaced with exercise bikes where students could pedal while listening in class. Alternatively, with more budgets, the school could purchase tables with higher table top so that treadmill could be equipped as well. Bringing up the level of excitement, the school could implement a system where students could earn participation point just by accumulating points for the calories they have burned. Another bizarre idea would be encouraging students to exercise so as to earn the chance to participate in class. For example, instead of raising their hands, students would have to pedal, walk or run as fast as they can to hit the first 100m mark before they could earn the chance to share their input. I am sure it would be fun to implement this in class!
TED. (2011, December). Laura Carstensen: Older people are happier[Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/laura_carstensen_older_people_are_happier?language=en