Thoughts From the Centenarian Worker

For recruiters who deal with employment planning in the United Kingdom, organizational development and training got a whole lot tougher when the country imposed new age-discrimination regulations earlier this year.

Though resources abound (consultants, books, etc.) to help employers deal with issues such as working with disillusioned staff who might need help with finding their focus at work and motivating older employees, there is one employer who certainly won’t need any help managing its older worker.

As of last week, the New Inn pub in Dorset, England, now employs the U.K.’s oldest worker.

The New Inn’s gardener just celebrated his 104th birthday, says he has no plans to retire soon, and relies on “a drop of whisky” to cure any ailments that might prevent him from working up to five hours a day.

Jim Webber has worked part time for the past 20 years at the New Inn, and he earns a self-imposed wage of £3 per hour (about $5.87, more than the U.S. federal minimum wage).

Born in 1902, Webber told the British newspaper the Guardian that he has observed a dramatic shift in people’s attitudes to work since he was young.

“It’s very much different today than what it was then. We had to work then, but now they please themselves whether they work or not. We had to earn a shilling to help with the home. There wasn’t the money about as there is now,” he said.

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Webber told the newspaper that he gets bored if he is not working.

“As long as I’m able I would rather be doing something than staying idle, but how long I will be able to carry on I’m not sure. As long as I’m able to do the job I think I should carry on to pass away the time,” he said.

He drives his 30-year-old Leyland tractor to work, known locally as Tin Pony, unloads his lawn mower, cuts the grass, bags it up, and takes it away.

Webber’s employer, Mary Ward, said the grounds are always immaculate. “A lot of people moan about their aches and pains, me included, but you never hear a moan out of Jim. He just gets on with it and works away,” she added.

Aside from minor ailments (rheumatism and a weak leg), Webber said he doubts there is a magic answer to staying healthy, though he has had “plenty to eat and drink, I’m more than happy as it is. I don’t know if there is a secret, I haven’t got one.”

Elaine Rigoli has nearly 15 years of experience managing content and community for various B2B and consumer websites. Elaine has written thousands of business and technology articles and has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal and eWeek, among other publications.


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