Old-fash­ioned work ethic pays off

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By RHI­AN­NON McCON­NELL

She’s 77, still holds a job and has never taken a sick day.

Porirua City Coun­cil sup­port as­sis­tant Mar­garet Al­lan is proof that many work­ers are like a fine wine – they get bet­ter as they get older.

Al­lan’s du­ties in­clude de­liv­er­ing coun­cil pa­pers, set­ting up the coun­cil cham­bers and clean­ing up af­ter meet­ings.

Ac­curo Health In­sur­ance chief ex­ec­u­tive Ge­off An­nals has been vis­it­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions and clubs try­ing to get rid of stereo­types about older work­ers.

An­nals, who has spent many years in­volved with the Cap­i­tal & Coast District Health Board and the New Zealand Nurses’ Or­gan­i­sa­tion, said anal­y­sis of 380 stud­ies in­volv­ing more than 70,000 people found older work­ers per­formed bet­ter in many re­spects.

‘‘ The per­for­mance of older work­ers was found to be the same or bet­ter than younger work­ers on all sig­nif­i­cant work per­for­mance di­men­sions ex­cept ini­tial per­for­mance in train­ing,’’ he said.

An­nals said stereo­types that older work­ers took more sick days and were less re­li­able and pro­duc­tive were wrong.

‘‘Be­ing older doesn’t, in it­self, mean you are less phys­i­cal or cog­ni­tively able than a younger per­son.

‘‘And while older work­ers tend to be off work longer when they are sick, they are sick less of­ten.

‘‘ They have fewer workplace ac­ci­dents, are less likely to suf­fer from off-work causes of ab­sence such as high- im­pact sport­ing in­juries and ex­haus­tion from at­tend­ing to a baby at night, and they’re less likely than younger work­ers to throw a sickie.’’

Un­til a few years ago Al­lan, who has worked for the coun­cil since 1988, worked full­time. Now she works about 15 hours a week.

She said she aimed at work­ing un­til she turned 70, but when she reached the mile­stone she re­alised she had more in her.

‘‘ I thought, ‘ I don’t want to re­tire’. I still feel good. I’m lis­ten­ing to my body,’’ she said.

While some businesses pre­fer to hire younger work­ers, older em­ploy­ees could of­fer re­li­a­bil­ity, dili­gence and an old- fash­ioned work ethic, Al­lan said.

‘‘ They [ coun­cil] know I’m re­li­able. I feel I’ve got to be here and no-one else can do it.’’

She said her strong work ethic kept her go­ing and she now has work­ing un­til she turns 80 in her sights.

‘‘It’s like an old car. If you don’t drive it, it’s go­ing to seize up.’’

Porirua City Coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive Gary Simp­son said Al­lan was a valu­able coun­cil em­ployee they hoped to hold on to.

‘‘She has worked for us for a long time and is very well-known and well liked,’’ he said.

Busi­ness New Zealand chief ex­ec­u­tive Phil O’Reilly said em­ploy­ers who stereo­typed older em­ploy­ees could be miss­ing out on great work­ers.

‘‘It’s a big op­por­tu­nity lost for em­ploy­ers who think like that,’’ he said.

O’Reilly said hir­ing should be a case- by- case sit­u­a­tion and age should not play a part in em­ploy­ment de­ci­sions.

Photo: RHI­AN­NON McCON­NELL

Go­ing strong: Mar­garet Al­lan is 77 and works at Porirua City Coun­cil.

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