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Your Company May Be Losing Money By Retiring Employees When They Clock 60 Years – And Above!
People Often STILL Have A Lot To Offer Organisations(& Society) After They Stop Being Young
From the time we were kids, up till now, each of us will – at one time or the other – have had contact with an aged person(or maybe you are one!). In certain societies, it is assumed that old/aging people will be limited in the extent to which they can be useful to us – or themselves – for that matter. It is true that there will come a time, when a person is so far gone in age, that s/he might become considerably dependent on others for the most basic needs.
However, so long as good health and living/welfare conditions are not lacking, most people are likely to enjoy relatively active lifestyles, even in their old age. As a result, they will be potentially capable of making useful contributions to development of people and society by drawing on their years of acquired experience and wisdom. The degree to which this is achieved of course will vary from culture to culture.
For instance, take a look at most of the extremely insightful, and thought-provoking proverbs unique to African(and Asian) societies. You will find that old/aging people in these societies are the ones who distilled their (good and bad) experiences in life, into proverbs, as a means of “teaching” or “guiding” other younger/not-so-old others towards taking the “right” steps in the “journey of life”.
That in itself, is evidence that old/aging people in any social setting, have a powerfully significant role they can play – if encouraged to do so. These people spend their “less busy” days, reflecting on past experiences – and using them to coach willing younger persons they come into contact with. In the process, they come up with proverbs, anecdotes, parables, folk tales etc to pass “educative” messages about “life” to their “students” or protégés.
Think about the “Tortoise” stories for instance. Many African born persons today, know or have heard one or more stories about the Tortoise, and his tricky ways! The stories are always engaging, yet the messages skillfully wrapped into them never lose their impact. A child, who has heard what Tortoise’s greed caused him to suffer, often recalls it at the exact moment when s/he is contemplating “picking” a piece of meat from the pot while no one is looking!
So, what is my point? It is that persons we call “old or aged persons”, often have “locked” within them a rich reservoir of potentially useful knowledge. This knowledge derives from various experiences they’ve had over the years. If they were to consciously draw upon that knowledge reservoir, they could make themselves practically indispensable to whatever group or organisation they choose to belong.
Organisations And The “Retire At 60 Years & Above” Rule
Organisations normally have employees of various ages, and at different stages of career advancement working in them. Generally, in many organisations, there is a rule that at a specified age (typically between 60 and 65), employees are expected to retire. Typically, the conditions of service documents in a company would state this requirement. In my experience, few people really bother to find out WHY they have to retire at that period of their lives, but it appears to be generally assumed(or accepted?) that at that age, most people will no longer be able to meet the requirements for doing their jobs satisfactorily.(There is also the other matter, of creating room for “young/fresh blood” to join the organisation.)
What appears not to have been considered in many cases, is whether or not this rule should apply both to jobs requiring mainly physical exertion, and those which only demand mental exertion by the employee. In the former case, the fact that the ageing process leads to weakening of the body muscles, dulled reflexes etc cannot be denied. However, in the latter, what one seems to happen is that people have come to assume(or accept?)that since the body is ageing, then so will the mind (or brain)!.
That is probably why you and I would find it incredible that a 96-year-old man signed a five-year deal with a hotel in Las Vegas, USA instead of ten years because he wasn’t sure the resort would last ten years”! Let’s face it, most “sensible” people would simply laugh at the old man for even thinking he had anything to offer – talk less of having him give the hoteliers a condition because he doubted they could last ten years!!(This true story is recorded in reference item no. 3 listed at the bottom of this page).
But then, THAT “old” man knew something others did not – and was certainly convinced about his ideas. What he knew is the reason why I have written this report. By the time you finish reading it, you will (hopefully) be armed with knowledge and good understanding of what ageing and experience ADD to a person that makes him/her MORE potentially useful to others.
You will in effect know what that “old” American man knew, and will (hopefully) use it to negotiate favourably for yourself in your later years. Most importantly, this knowledge will help you – as a decision maker – AVOID retiring your employees when they could still have more “USE VALUE” to offer, in exchange for the CASH value you give to them. This could be a key factor that determines the long term success or otherwise of your company/business.
Revealing Research Findings About Age, Ageing & The Brain
The story about the origin of this retirement age palavar is quite an amusing one. Historical accounts have it that the “tradition” (if we can call it that) came into acceptance for a reason TOTALLY unconnected with age. This tradition was a fallout of POLITICAL developments that occurred as far back as the 1870s! A brief narrative of the story is provided later on in this report (from reference item no. 3 listed at the bottom of this page)..
This report is preparing you to appreciate how our “thinking” has been conditioned by society, to accept limitations to our (mental) capabilities – that do not exist! People have learnt to believe for instance, that as they get old, they can expect to gradually become “slow/poor thinkers…dull-witted” etc. In most cases, these expectations are based upon faulty inferences drawn from physical body changes observed to occur with age. In effect, I am saying that contrary to popular belief, our mental capabilities remain unaffected(at least not in any significantly negative way) by the body’s ageing process!
And NO, this is not an outrageous or unsubstantiated assertion I’m making here. The entire matter was laid to rest as a result of verifiable research work carried out by respected scientists and professionals. I provide details below.
According to Tony Buzan (regarded as a world authority on the brain, memory, creativity, and speed reading – and inventor of the world-famous Mind Maps®), Dr. Marion Diamond of the University of California confirmed via research findings that “there is no evidence of brain cell loss with age in normal, active and healthy brains” (See reference item no. 1 listed at the bottom of this page).
Instead, research indicates as Buzan puts it that “if the brain is used and trained, there is a biological increase in its interconnectivity complexity, i.e. the person’s intelligence is raised”. And he adds: “Training of people in their sixties, seventies, eighties and nineties has shown that, in every area of mental performance, statistically significant and permanent improvements can be made”.
But how come we are just discovering this now? Or did some people from the old days know this truth as well? Luckily for us, we have records of utterances made by someone like Thomas Alva Edison, a man whose achievements in life(despite having what should have been the “handicap” of almost NO schooling) proved he had exceptional mental capability.
Edison is reported to have said “The brain can be developed just the same as the muscles can be developed, if one will only take the pains to train the mind to think,” and, “The brain that isn’t used rusts. The brain that is used responds. The brain is exactly like any other part of the body: it can be strengthened by proper exercise, by proper use. Put your arm in a sling and keep it there for a considerable length of time, and when you take it out, you find that you can’t use it. In the same way, the brain that isn’t used suffers atrophy.” (See reference item no. 2 listed at the bottom of this article).
Considering that Edison was not even close to being a medical doctor, talk less of being a brain surgeon, one can only try to imagine how he came about this strikingly accurate analysis of the brain’s capabilities. Review the foregoing, against the background of the fact that Edison had barely more than three months of schooling, then one cannot help but agree with the assertions he has made! But we could ask the question “How did Edison know?” The obvious answer in my opinion would be that Edison himself was living proof of the fact he had stated. He had experienced what he had spoken about. That was the basis of his awareness and conviction on the issue.
But, we can’t stop there! The title of this report is “Your Company May Be Losing Money By Retiring Employees When They Clock 60 Years (And Above)!”. To show how this can happen, we must bring the aforementioned submissions to bear on the workplace situation in companies.
So How Did The “60 Years & Above” Retirement Age Issue Start?
The story of how this retirement age issue came about is quite an intriguing one I must say. Incidentally, the person through whom I gained this exciting insight into it, was past 65 years himself when he wrote the book in which he told the story.
I refer to Zig Ziglar. It was in his book “Over The Top”(reference item no. 3 listed at the bottom of this page), that he narrated the anecdote under the sub-heading of “Time and Timing”. The true story – as told by Zig – about the origin of this “retirement age” problem, proves that age was not really the “issue”. He began by noting that people have generally considered 65 years as the retirement age – giving examples of universities, religious denominations, blue-chip companies, and the military etc as culprits. Then he told this story – I paraphrase him below:
In the 1870s, the then Chancellor of Germany – Bismarck – was studying the problems posed to him, by a number of rather powerful enemies he had in German polity. He discovered that they all had one thing in common: they were “men who were 65 years or older”.
So, the smart Chancellor used his influence as the incumbent, to persuade the German legislature to enact a law making 65 the mandatory age for retirement!
In other words, this retirement age palaver had absolutely nothing to do with retrogression in “mental abilities”, or a decline in “productivity” for that matter!
Instead, Bismarck had this law passed, so as to eliminate those old but sagacious individuals, who made “trouble” for him as political opponents. These men’s time-nurtured wisdom, experience, power, contacts/connections etc gave him cause to “fear” them. He knew they had what it would take to deal him fatal blows politically, if he left them “running loose” – hence the law.
Now the funny part was that other European countries inexplicably followed suit subsequently. Eventually the “policy” was adopted in America and of course the rest of the world followed!
Zig ended by lamenting the tragic fact that this policy makes people quit when they (to quote him) “are at the very peak of their intellect, wisdom, contacts, power, experience, organisation, and networks that they have built over a period of a lifetime!”
How Much Of What We (Think We) Know Is True/Correct?
Can you imagine how every year research findings by scientists continue to invalidate the “truths” we “think” we know about ourselves and the world we live in?
You could of course say we’re being brainwashed even now with these aforementioned findings. But I always measure things like this against the impact their application makes on people and society in real life. Evidence is rife to confirm that these findings are actually consistent with what has always obtained in nature. As Zig said, the bible itself, when it did speak of retirement – did so in reference to it as a form of punishment!
Think about it! Look at the Old Testament, and check the ages at which people mentioned in it fulfilled their roles – Abraham, Sarah, etc. They were well past ages that we in today’s world consider that one ought to “retire”.
Could it be that we are actually STILL capable of staying as virile and active as those people were in their time, right into 100 years and above. Could it be that we have allowed ourselves to be convinced that we are supposed to gradually age away, and become less capable by the time we cross 60 – 65 years?
When you think about the saying that “whatever you think about yourself is what you become”, then one is tempted to consider that this is indeed the reason why many people appear to “expire” at those ages. They were told that that were supposed to “expire” or “grow old” by then, and they believed it!
But Why Should YOU Believe All This?
Because biological research evidence has finally confirmed what people in the old days have always known – that we DO NOT lose functionality “upstairs” as we grow old. Instead our brains can still be developed further to enable us deliver better brain power/output to contribute meaningfully to society.
If this is true, then it means if we take many of our old/aging people who have spent years doing certain kinds of jobs, we can engage them in productive roles that have more to do with THINKING up solutions to identified problems. (There might be need for “brain-training” like those recommended by Tony Buzan in his book, but ultimately, positive results can be obtained.)
The expectation is that they will draw upon the years of experience they’ve had, which many of the supposedly brighter, and younger colleagues may not have. These could then be combined with their increased thinking abilities, to help their teams solve specific problems in various areas of specialisation.
Corporate organisations might find that they can successfully employ this technique. It is also conceivable that many of such older people could actually enjoy this kind of attention, since it would be an acknowledgment of their continued usefulness/relevance(they don’t even need to remain in the employ of the company to do this).
Of course there is the issue of reversing the years of brainwashing that people like this have been subjected to. By this I refer to certain societies in which some of such people might not be willing to believe that they are capable of functioning that usefully again. In such cases, they would be better left alone, since without their believing they can do it, no amount of training will enable them achieve the desired levels of performance.
I once worked in a large multinational corporation as a process manager – a brewer to be specific. I still recall VERY vividly that many of the long serving process operators who retired at the mandatory age defined by the company were often still in their prime – at least as far as their ability to do their jobs went. Many were among the best in what they did. In fact, when they left, the brewery would sometimes limp along for many months before settling for some reasonably satisfactory replacements for them in their area of the process! Over the seven(7) year period I spent in the brewery, I came to develop a healthy respect for these men.
These supposedly “old” operatives frequently had knowledge/expertise that made them adept at managing their aspects of the process. When particularly difficult/recurring process problems occurred, they were often useful resource persons/members of successful problem-solving teams. And as in-house trainers(with proper motivation), they often turned out superbly prepared protégés, who subsequently required little or no formal training from the company’s Training department(I should know – I was Technical Training and Development Manager before I left)!
Any Other Reasons For Retiring 60 Year Olds?
So, does your company have any other reason(s) for asking people to retire at 60 years(or older), other than the already mentioned fact that it’s “policy” or (the unstated assumption) that a 60 year old’s usefulness to the company would have dropped too low? If YES, then maybe you don’t need to try convincing your management to modify their approach to implementing that “rule”. If NO, then hopefully you/your company will want to tap FULLY from the wisdom/knowledge of your veteran employees before letting them go completely.
I am not saying that new/younger employees be prevented from coming in, just because you want to benefit from some old person’s wisdom. What I am proposing is that companies try to strike a sensible balance between both options. They can do this by watching out for specific individuals whose antecedents/current performances, suggest that even though they have arrived at the “age of retirement”, their continued presence in the organisation/as team members – whether on contract or part-time arrangement – could yield greater bottom line rewards for the company.
Incidentally, some companies already do this – so it is NOT impossible!
How Can You Use This Report’s Information?
Here are a few ways it can help YOU – if you let it:
1. If you are already 60 years or older, you now know that you can still make the most of your life. This is because clocking 60, does not imply you’ve run out of time or abilities to achieve your dreams in life.
2. As a 60 year old who has read this report, your kids and other young people around you, will (hopefully!) find you very forthcoming as a coach/mentor/teacher. This will derive from your awareness that you can develop yourself further – especially mentally – to help them make better use of their experiences, and be more productive.
3. As a decision maker(who may not necessarily be young and therefore not up to 60 years of age), you will treat veteran employees in your company, with more respect and possibly try to help them develop better brainpower, to become more useful to the company before they have to retire.
4. You might be in a position to help influence the initiation of a re-think of the implementation of the retirement rules in your company. This would be done to ensure individuals who still have enough “USE VALUE” to offer the company are “held on to”, if necessary as “independent” contractors to the company.
Now that you know the truth, please apply your knowledge – and share it with others as well. Bob Marley once sang “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery; none but ourselves can free our minds”. I like to put it this way: Emancipate Your Thinking(TM)! Only by so doing, can we really achieve our full potentials as human beings.
The policies or “rules” in your company are unlikely to be cast in stone. Some person(s) would have “formed” them at a time when it probably made sense to have them THAT way. The reality from what YOU know today however might make it necessary for you and/or other decision makers to work towards adapting your company’s retirement policy for instance in a way that allows the company benefit more optimally from the tremendous wealth of knowledge, skills and talent that most of your employees(especially the aging/long serving ones) are endowed with.
To make an organisation(or indeed a society) truly successful, its members need to be made to believe in their own abilities to make a difference. One step towards achieving that, is by helping them do away with self-imposed limitations like the one about aging resulting in lower productivity. Let’s get many of our old/aging people more actively involved, in improving the way we do things for the better.
1. Buzan T., The Speed Reading Book, London, BBC Worldwide Limited, 2001.
2. Hill N., Think and Grow Rich, New York, Hawthorn Books, Inc, 1966.
3. Ziglar Z., Over The Top, Tennessee, Thomas Nelson, Inc, Publishers(USA), 1994
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