Jayne Burns, a remarkable centenarian, never planned on working past 100. Yet, every morning, she embarks on a 20-minute drive from her Cincinnati home to Mason, Ohio, where she diligently clocks into her part-time position as a fabric cutter at Joann Fabric and Crafts store. With 26 years of service under her belt, it's clear that this job is more than just a means to an end for her; it's a source of joy and fulfilment.
Jayne, who celebrated her 100th birthday in 2022, defies retirement stereotypes and continues to be an inspiration for all. In this article, we delve into Jayne Burns' remarkable journey, her enduring work ethic, and her valuable career advice for a long and happy professional life.
A Late-Career Start and a Lifelong Passion
Jayne Burns' journey at the craft store began in 1997, a few months after the passing of her husband, Dick. Her daughter, Donna Burns, who worked part-time at Joann's, suggested the role to provide a welcome distraction from the grief. Jayne embraced the opportunity wholeheartedly, beginning a remarkable chapter in her life.
Despite being a bookkeeper for most of her career, Jayne attempted retirement multiple times during her 70s and 80s. However, each attempt was short-lived, as she found herself missing the daily routine and the camaraderie of her co-workers.
"I enjoy talking to everybody I work with and meeting the customers who are very nice," she says, "even if some of them are surprised to see me at the cutting table."
The Power of Positive Relationships
According to Jayne Burns, there is no secret formula for a longer and happier life, but her experience has shown that work can be a key contributor. One essential career advice she offers is the importance of having friendly co-workers.
"It's important to find people who are friendly and kind," she emphasizes.
At Joann's, Jayne has forged deep friendships with her co-workers, including Maggie HusVar, a student at Thomas More University. During coffee breaks, Maggie introduced Jayne to the world of TikTok, and the two have since created several viral videos, dancing and reminiscing in the store's breakroom. Last summer, her colleagues surprised her with a grand birthday celebration when she turned 100.
Positive relationships not only make work more enjoyable but, as Jayne believes, they also make time fly by, potentially contributing to a longer life.
"Staying busy keeps you from focusing on your aches and pains," she notes. "It makes it easier to keep going."
The Harvard-Backed Happiness Hack
Jayne Burns' career advice aligns with a groundbreaking 85-year study by Harvard researchers. This extensive study revealed that positive relationships are the cornerstone of happiness throughout one's life, including in the workplace.
The study highlighted that the unhappiest jobs are often those that lack interpersonal relationships, involve isolated work, or require overnight shifts, such as truck driving or night security. According to Robert Waldinger, MD, and Marc Schulz, PhD, the authors of "The Good Life," positive relationships at work lead to lower stress levels, healthier employees, and fewer instances of coming home upset. In essence, they make us happier.