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The Columbia Press

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Senior Moments: Where did our work ethic go?

Emma Edwards
By Emma Edwards, Thursday, April 11, 2019

To quote a rather obscure person on work ethics, “If I couldn’t do a job both quickly and well, I would rather do it well than quickly.”

I think this is true of most of us seniors. Ethics is defined by dictionary.com as “the principle that hard work is intrinsically virtuous or worthy of reward.”

Wikipedia defines work ethics as “a belief that hard work and diligence have a moral benefit and an inherent ability, virtue or value to strengthen character and individual abilities.”

So, what happened to old fashioned work ethics? Seldom do we seniors gather without mentioning the lack of enthusiasm from young people old enough to obtain a work permit. Seems those in this age group on up to and often including college age want a good job but, sad to say, lack even a modicum of work ethic.

A somewhat recent AARP study quoted a report from the Sloan Center on Aging & Work, “Hiring managers gave older employees high marks for loyalty, reliability and productivity.”

Most of you will remember the Game of Life (also known as Life). It was created by Milton Bradley in 1850 as The Checkered Game of Life. It was America’s first popular parlor game. Eventually, advertisements on the television used a saying like this: “You will learn about life when you play The Game of Life.”

It has been updated to include Life Tiles, “which reward players for recycling, learning CPR, and saying no to drugs.” It’s played all over the world (in about 20 different languages).

The basic game challenges players to travel through life and earn points for successfully completing school, getting married, having children and working hard while avoiding pitfalls like gambling and idleness.

And most of us older seniors realize that was how we were brought up in the ’30s and ’40s. What happened?

I think today’s youth would benefit from reading the novel, Rags to Riches, written in 1868 by Horatio Alger Jr. It stresses that success comes from hard work and virtue. Some may remember that his earliest books had plotlines that are a road map of the work ethic.

Another one of his books you may wish to obtain is Ragged Dick and you can find it at our amazing library. Another, which I have not read, is a biography of Ben Franklin.

Peter Cappeli, known for his 2010 book Managing the Older Worker, says he has concluded that “older employees soundly thrash their younger colleagues.” He goes on to point out that “every aspect of job performance gets better as we age.”

I know a few companies that prefer to hire older employees, having found that a smart and active 75-year-old could easily outperform a 40-year-old couch slouch.

These and other studies on this subject make me proud to be part of the senior population and, with that, I think it’s time to go on a walk or do my exercises.


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