One factor in industrial efficiency which statistics tend to minimize is that of the worker's attitude and motivation. This factor becomes increasingly important as the physical powers decline, since it not only furnishes the impetus for attempts at job adaptation through the search for and adoption of newer and easier methods of operation, but it also determines how hard a man works at his job and how much care he is willing to take with it. When a visible concession to his age must be made--such as the permission to sit while others stand--is it done in such a way as to deprecate his abilities and his performance? If so, the results may not be as successful as they would be had the concession been made in a different manner. The bearing of the worker's attitude on his job performance is often glaringly apparent when a job transfer involving down-grading must be made. How he feels and performs in such a situation may determine whether his usefulness to industry is finished or is to be prolonged. The degree to which management can preserve the dignity and self-esteem of the worker by helping him to accept the physical limitations of aging as a natural human phenomenon which need not destroy his industrial usefulness may be a more potent ingredient than we realize in the efficiency of the aging worker. Conclusions about the job performance of older workers must take this intangible factor into account.
Any consideration of the relation of aging to the ability to work must be based significantly on what we know about how older people perform in employment. A rosy picture could easily be presented which shows that the older worker, be he 55 or 70, can and does perform satisfactorily in a wide variety of jobs, that he is generally more loyal, steady, and dependable than the younger man, and that these qualities combined with experience and judgment more than make up for some decrease in speed or gross output. In this picture, his total usable output balances and not infrequently exceeds that of the younger man because of his greater emphasis on