Learning > Inspiration

Mature staff 'continue to be valuable assets'

Calvin Yang on 30 Jan 2021

The Straits Times


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Workers over 60 might be thinking about their imminent retirement but they also have much still to offer, nurturing and leading their younger colleagues.


Gardens by the Bay counts on just that. It also offers older employees the chance to pick up new skills and take on different roles.


Having these older workers has benefited the gardens, said Ms May Yeo, senior director of human resource and corporate services.


"In particular, within the horticultural profession, we place a premium on experience as these senior staff possess considerable domain know-how and skills accumulated over the years.


"They provide guidance and advice to their younger colleagues, and some are good leaders in their respective areas of expertise too."


In 2018, Gardens by the Bay voluntarily raised its retirement age to 65, beyond the statutory requirement of 62. With this change, staff aged between 62 and 65 and previously re-employed on a contract basis were given the option to revert to permanent employment until they reached 65.


Currently, about 30 of its 370 staff are 60 years old and above. Six of them are 65 or older.


Noting that mature workers "continue to be valuable assets" to the gardens, Ms Yeo said some have even stepped up to take on new roles that have emerged because of the Covid-19 pandemic.


Some older front-line staff are also open to getting training to pick up the skills to do so, she added.


"Instead of a specific skillset, which has turned out to be limiting during the pandemic, for example when retail shops were closed due to a drop in tourist arrivals, each individual will now have a variety of skills across the spectrum of guest relations management, security operations compliance and customer experience. They will then be able to adapt to roles in any of these areas when the need arises," she said.


Ms Andrea Kee, deputy director of the research and horticulture department, enjoys guiding her younger colleagues in their work. Her department oversees research into growing temperate plants in Singapore, orchid breeding and display, plant propagation and introduction of new plants to the gardens, as well as outreach to the public.


When putting up an orchid display, for instance, her staff need to have a keen eye for details, said the 62-year-old, who has worked at the gardens for 13 years. "My younger colleagues will always request that I take a look at their work before they wrap up the installation. I will guide them as much as I can."


Not that she minds, for Ms Kee believes that her efforts would help shorten their learning curve.


"I know some staff appreciate having a mentor to share experiences with them, as well as the guidance," she added.


Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.



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