Khaled AlmaeenaKhaled Almaeena

A UK newspaper published a survey that stated: “workers of over 50 are four times less likely to pull a sickie than younger staff.” The survey also brought to light a five-year study which indicated that 44 percent of workers aged 20-39 had lied to their boss about being ill to get time off, compared with just 10 percent of those over 50. More mature workers seem to be healthier and more energetic and less reluctant to take sick leave. Younger workers attributed their time off due to a common cold and at times took more than the required days for treatment. The survey of 2,000 working adults by an insurance firm found that older workers were keen to make the "best impression" and hold on to their jobs as they approached retirement. Older workers also took better care of themselves and thus were more active. They also brought stability, experience and knowledge to their jobs and were surprisingly more ambitious. Therefore, they were more productive because of their almost non-existent absenteeism. Older workers add value because they share skills and knowledge and act as mentors to the younger staff. A better work ethic makes them exceptionally reliable. As a result, we now have to erase the misconception that older workers are just biding their time. In the golden age of Saudi Arabian Airlines, there were exceptional “older workers" who did not at all feel threatened by the new batch of graduates, but rather helped and guided them. Not all of them had higher qualifications, but the majority of them added value by their character and committed personality. I am sure many managers have a lot of stories to tell about made-up excuses by younger members of staff so that they can skip work. One of the most amusing stories that I can remember was of a young man asking for leave because of his mother’s demise. The leave was granted and he disappeared for nine days. Then six months later, he filled out another leave form claiming that again he needed to attend his mother’s funeral. When questioned about this, he quickly added that this was his stepmother. However, the story does not end there, because less than a year later the same young man applied for leave citing the funeral of yet another stepmother! Meanwhile, young members of staff have easy access to fake medical reports. Unfortunately, they know that they can get away with this because of Ministry of Labor regulations that favor the employee. However, one should not deride the young too much, but rather by and large place trust with older, more experienced adults. The ideal situation would be an organization with a mixture of older workers and younger staff that can bond together. The older ones can set an example of responsible behavior and together they can build a strong and viable team. Younger adults should be aware that the future can only be achieved through hard work, learning from the more experienced members of staff and accepting authority within a proper management framework. This satisfactory mix would go a long way to achieving the organizational success of any enterprise. — Reprinted with permission of the Saudi Gazette and Khaled Almaeena. The writer is Editor-at-Large. He can be reached at and followed on Twitter: @KhaledAlmaeena