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KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) — Are the retirees of a nation seen as a human resource or a wasted group? Why do I see several retirees working in Changi Airport whenever I fly in and out of the airport whereas the scenario is not so in our own country?

I had an interesting chat with a retiree in a restroom, who was overseeing the foreign worker cleaning the lavatory. Two things I noticed while talking to this uncle who must be in his late 60’s.

He was very crisp in talking to me. He informed me that he had retired from the civil service and joined the cleaning company to oversee the janitorial service for the first floor of the airport.

It is a highly responsible job which requires him to ensure the restrooms are clean and dry at all times. He also added that he takes pride in this job and never finds it boring.

Can we do the same in Malaysia? I am sure there are many professionals, managers, engineers and accountants, nurses and teachers, communications practitioners, media personnel, police, military personnel and civil servants who have retired.

Whilst some of them may be spending their days going on long-deserved vacations and enjoying the life of retirement to the fullest, others may have retreated to a life of utter dullness, counting each passing day with complete boredom and a feeling of uselessness.

Why not allow these retirees to further contribute to the nation’s growth and development by gaining employment in fields related to what they used to do before retirement.

While under the employment of a waste management company, I had received a letter from France, informing my then company that the French agency would be able to export retired landfill engineers, incinerator engineers, technicians, managers for waste management to our country in order to assist in the development of our nature of business.

I was surprised by the request; I felt that it was an excellent way to earn foreign income and simultaneously utilise the retirees for a worthy cause, too. I had never thought about it until I saw its benefits.

The package was very simple, where we pay the salary that they ask, the agency arranges the accommodation, travel and medical insurance. However, the offer was not accepted by my company as it was a very new idea then in 2004.

I certainly feel that there is a fantastic opportunity to explore these ‘forgotten people’ who have contributed immensely to the well-being of the nation and industry that they served.

While we are looking high and low for workers to serve the industry especially in the service sector, I think there is a reservoir of people who are lying idle, and who need to be tapped as to further boost our economy.

These retirees can also be a source of expertise for the Myanmar and East-European economies respectively which are developing rapidly now. This can also be a source of income for the nation.

Retired teachers, lecturers, nurses, coaches, drivers, doctors, dentists, engineers, architects, writers, journalists, painters, motor mechanics, boiler man, policeman and many people from other vocations can contribute to the economy and well-being of our nation if we come up with an attractive program to deploy them.

This exercise of redeploying the retirees into other sectors would also bring about a greater boost to their morale and will certainly increase their productivity.

The six advantages of hiring a retiree are as follows: Experience: They have the know-how gleaned from years on the job and weathering business-cycle dips, management trends and different bosses. Their institutional knowledge alone means that firms need not have to spend time and money reinventing the wheel.

Work ethics: According to a recent study, employees over 50 years of age are more likely to demonstrate dependability and perseverance and remain task-focused.

Those traits offer a good model for younger workers. Customer service: Many retailers are hiring older employees because they are more emotionally mature and can relate better to customers, hence developing a happier environment for both employee and customer.

Also, research indicates that good verbal communication, among other skills, increases with age, thus further contributing to a more pleasant atmosphere in the working world.

Customer identification: A number of companies with older customers are hiring more seniors because they are able to identify with the clients’ needs.

Loyalty: Unlike younger employees, seniors are less likely to job-hop, and a lower turnover rate saves considerable money for the company. One estimate is that it costs 50 percent or more of an individual’s salary to interview and train a new worker for a position.

Motivation: Older workers are among the most motivated in the workplace, according to a December 2005 study conducted by consulting firm Towers Perrin for AARP.

In fact, employees over 50 were more motivated to exceed job expectations than younger workers. Highly motivated employees were described as “extremely likely” to satisfy customers, effect product quality and control costs.

According to the study, workers at 55 years of age and older had an average “motivation score” of 78.4, compared with 71.2 for those between the ages of 18 and 29. (The average for all ages was 74.8) Companies with highly-engaged workers, the study noted, are more likely to exceed their industry-average revenue growth and sport a lower than average cost of goods sold.

Retirees are a great source of income for our nation. Let’s look at them seriously and start engaging them effectively so as to ensure the economy and the retirees benefit from this scheme. The programs would also provide a sense of pride and importance among the retirees.

Let’s bring them into action, thus making Malaysia an effective human resource provider for both internal and external purposes.

(This commentary is the personal opinion of the writer and does not reflect on BERNAMA’s stand on what is said by the writer)


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