Three men, three solutions (article from the Basler Zeitung)

Alexis Weil created a platform for work-motivated people over 60 because he saw how difficult it is for some senior citizens after retirement when they are suddenly confronted with too much free time.

by Franziska Laur, (Basler Zeitung)


"It's like winning the lottery for me," says Peter Woodtli, a temporarily employed senior citizen at Irides AG (home for the blind in Basel). "Seniors bring life experience and relaxation into the home. They are highly motivated and competent," says Georges Krieg (49), Managing Director of Irides AG. "The idea came to me when my father retired," says Alexis Weil, founder of the seniors@work platform.

The three men from three generations are sitting in the garden of the home for the blind on Kohlenberggasse and all look very happy. The 28-year-old Alexis Weil founded the platform because he saw how difficult it is for some senior citizens after retirement when they are suddenly confronted with too much free time. Or for 60-year-olds when they lose their job and can no longer find one. This is how the economics student acted: for the benefit of seniors looking for jobs and clients who need support. "All parties benefit from this intergenerational exchange," says the young man.

He also herds cats

This is how Georges Krieg and Peter Woodtli came together. Krieg had a personnel gap in quality management at short notice. "We had a departure and urgently needed to go through a recognition procedure for the canton," says Krieg. Without much hope, he contacted the platform. And lo and behold, Peter Woodtli was exactly the right man. The 71-year-old has years of experience in the field and was looking for a job.

He is paid by Irides AG according to the market rate. But Woodtli also looks after cats and does gardening work - and these jobs are less well paid. "We don't want to be competition for the normal job market and we don't want to engage in wage dumping, we want to generate new jobs," says Alexis Weil. This is confirmed by the jobs that have been placed so far.

Sometimes it's a time crunch, as with Georges Krieg, in other cases customers can only afford someone who doesn't charge too much. Such as the architect who draws up plans for stables when the farmers would otherwise not be able to afford the conversion. Or the photographer who sometimes takes photos at a wedding if the budget is tight and can be paid for by attending the wedding reception. "Often, senior citizens don't want to be an old man yet and are looking for something meaningful to do."

A breath of fresh air and wisdom

And sometimes it just fits perfectly, as in Woodtli's case: "It was right for me from the very first second," he says. He has been working at the home for the blind since mid-May, and the mandate is expected to last until the fall. "And when people come from outside, it has an additional advantage: you have to get out of your inertia and see yourself with different eyes," says Managing Director Georges Krieg. "I think it's great with older people. They know what they want, they bring a breath of fresh air, they have experience."

Accounting for SMEs

"It can't be right that senior citizens can't work from one day to the next after retirement and at the same time people are talking about a shortage of skilled workers," says Weil. His father, for example, now fills out tax returns for expats or supports SMEs with their bookkeeping or annual accounts. A doctor receives orders from the mother of a child with physical disabilities to submit applications for school. A retired architect draws up construction plans for farmers, as such a contract is sometimes not financially attractive enough for normal architectural firms. So there are always niches that would not be filled without the work of senior citizens.

"It's a complement between young and old," says Krieg. He is also pleased that he was able to solve the quality management issue so elegantly because he still has to deal with the new building project. It is the replacement of the current retirement and nursing home on the same site.

The platform will be free of charge until the fall. After that, the costs will be around five francs per month.

Source: Basler Zeitung

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