Very old people continuing to work despite barely being able to stand are a fact of life in Singapore. While McDonald’s outlets in other developed countries are mainly staffed by fresh-faced youngsters, in Singapore there’s a high chance you’ll be served by someone your grandparents’ age.
Clearly, many old people are remaining in employment because they need the cash. Thus, there is some consternation amongst Singaporeans turning 65 this year, as they’ll have hit the re-employment age ceiling, which will be raised to 67 only on July 1 next year.
In principle, once Singaporeans hit 62, they have officially hit “retirement age”. However, employers are presently required to offer them re-employment until age 65 (a ceiling which will be raised to 67 next year). If you’re not financially ready for retirement yet, being able to work a few extra years can really help.
Unfortunately, for those Singaporeans who turn 65 this year, it could be the end of the road. Once they hit 65, there is nothing stopping their bosses from dismissing them on account of their age. On the other hand, if they manage to hold on till next year without being forced into involuntary retirement, they’ll be protected by the new ceiling for another year.
Here are three tips that might help older workers hold on for a few more years.
Speak to your boss about staying on in the job
Poor superior-subordinate communication at the workplace is rife, and bosses often have no idea what their workers are thinking. For an older worker who hopes to remain on the job for a few more years, it is essential to communicate this to the people in charge.
When bosses want to trim the fat on their workforce, older workers are the first to go. You’re doing yourself no favours by keeping quiet as that will lead to your elimination by default. If you have a burning desire to remain in the company, it is imperative you talk to your boss about it or he will never know.
Of course, there is no guarantee you won’t be asked to leave anyway. But in the event you have an understanding boss or the company is able to profitably retain you, you increase your chances by signalling your desire to remain on the job.
Make yourself more useful
Older blue collar workers have it bad, since it’s hard for them to compete with their younger counterparts in terms of physical strength and speed.
As an older worker who’s afraid of getting axed, you gain a huge advantage by making yourself indispensable in some way, and show that you have an edge over your younger colleagues.
Your younger colleagues may be able to work faster, better and for less money than you, but what they lack is experience. Volunteering to train or mentor rookies or younger colleagues is one way you can make yourself look more useful.
Alternatively, you might wish to voluntarily take on a broader job scope. Young workers who specialise early tend to get pigeonholed in a certain area, but as you’ve had the chance to amass decades of experience you might be able to do more than them.
Spearhead a new initiative or get involved in key projects
Older workers get a bad rap for just sitting around for the steady paycheck, even when they’ve outlived their usefulness. Just ask any guy doing NS and he’ll complain about those higher-ups who’ve been there forever.
If your boss thinks of you as one of those people who’s remaining in the job just to continue receiving a steady paycheck you might be in danger of getting axed. You need to make yourself more visible (in a good way, not by gossiping loudly with the other aunties/uncles) and show you’re still committed to the company in order to raise your chances of being retained.
One way is to get involved in a key project. If you manage to find your way into something important, it’s less likely you’ll be let go. If there’s nothing going on at your workplace you could even choose to spearhead a new initiative—for instance, someone involved in secretarial work is privy to the company’s many inefficiencies, and might be able to start a project to reduce the amount of useless administrative work employees are made to do.
Do you know anyone who was asked to leave by their employer once they hit 65? Share your stories in the comments!