Many studies have revealed that regular mental activity is an important determinant for successful ageing.
In particular, one way for senior citizens to remain mentally active is through participating in the labour market. This includes full-time or part-time employment, as well as volunteer work.
In addition to staying mentally active, seniors who join or remain within the labour force have numerous added advantages, such as learning new skills, being socially engaged with colleagues, receiving a boost in self-esteem and increasing financial independence.
Research has demonstrated that seniors who remain active in the workforce experience physiological, psychological and even spiritual benefits. The HSBC 2011 Global Report: The Future Of Retirement revealed that 39 per cent of Singaporeans believe that having work that they enjoy is extremely important to achieving a happy retirement. This is above the global average of 34 per cent.
Moving from benefits for an employee to benefits for an employer, there is much to be gained by organisations hiring senior staff.
Frequently, these individuals bring with them a reservoir of experience and knowledge that allows them to make significant contributions to their workplace. Mature workers tend to be more dedicated and have a lower propensity to job hop, saving human resource departments the cost associated with recruitment and training.
Some senior employees may be willing to take reduced salaries as they could have settled issues such as mortgages or childrearing. In addition, these employees recognise that there is a lot more to work than just collecting a salary.
Challenges and re-invention tactics
Despite these numerous advantages for seniors to stay in the job market, there are a number of different challenges that they may face. These include:
Competition for jobs with younger workers, worsened by some employers who may prefer not to hire mature employees;
Physiological changes that limit their choice of jobs;
Discovering that their skills may not be current or effective, coupled with the belief that re-training or learning new tasks is difficult;
Establishing a good working relationship with colleagues from different generations;
The perception that seniors should be happy retiring from the workforce; and
Social embarrassment of “having” to work to generate income or being coerced into accepting a lower-status job.
The key way to overcome the challenges above is for the individual to have the right frame of mind, determination to move forward and ability to embrace change.
Seniors wishing to be re-employed should do some soul-searching. For example, look at what you are passionate about, and better understand what you yearn to do in life.
Here are a few tips that senior citizens can follow to re-invent themselves for re-employment:
Look for work that brings you joy. For example, someone with a passion for gardening could explore whether there are any work opportunities at the local nursery.
Know your strengths and find work that can maximise these abilities. Learn how to become your own best salesman and be proud of your talents. Everyone will have something unique. For example, a housewife who has never worked in an organisation before has skills honed from managing a household.
Practise “motivational self-talk”. This will ensure that you remain curious and cheerful. Where possible, choose to engage with other positive or like-minded people and steer away from those who sap your self-esteem.
Acquire basic work skills. This means updating your computer skills, learning how to use Microsoft Office applications, and understanding how to use technology such as e-mail, smartphones or applications like Skype.
Forget about the number of candles on your birthday cake.
Re-inventing yourself for re-employment is an enriching experience. The “journey of longevity” is yours and you can make your own choices.