A friend of mine lied about his age to get what turned out to be his last job about 25 years ago. In his early sixties at the time, he told his prospective employer he was still in his 50s. He not only got the job but he excelled at it so much he received many bonuses.
I met a couple of his bosses and in conversation they told me how much they were impressed by my friend’s skills and energy in performing his job.
My friend finally called it quits when he reached the ripe old age of 70, retiring to spend more time with his wife and extended family, including grandchildren.
He also received a cash bonus of around $20,000 from the federal government, which was part of a policy encouraging ageing Australians to keep working past the then pension age of 65.
I am not sure if this policy is still operating but I remembered my friend’s circumstances today after seeing news of a push by the current government in Canberra to encourage older Australians to keep working as long as possible.
And I guess it doesn’t matter that their intentions are not that pure – they need as many of us paying tax so they can balance the budget.
But since the first thing that was pointed out was the obvious one, that employers can’t wait to make older people redundant, let’s look at Top 5 ways of keeping older people working on.
Number 1. Flexibility. Older people would like to work longer but would also have to have more time to spend on other things.
Number 2. If employers can start to be flexible it will also address the main reason they throw older people on the scrapheap – cost. Working just three or four days a week means a lower burden on businesses.
Number 3. Time for a siesta. Yes, what would be wrong with at least one day a week, if not more, completing an eight hour shift over 12 hours, with a four hour break in the middle – nothing would be wrong and everything would be right about it if the country benefits from people working and paying taxes instead of living on the pension and having nothing to do.
Number 4. Make all older people over 60 mentors to younger colleagues in the business. That’s a huge amount of experience going to waste when we discard old people just to make the bottom line look good.
Number 5. Extra emphasis on people who perform tough jobs; they should be fully re-skilled at the government’s expense so they too can keep working but in a job where you just need what’s upstairs and not the physical fitness of a front row forward.