The often-overlooked risk of job automation

What: Job automation is a thing, whether we like it or not and it’s no secret that it comes with a number of risks.

Among them, however, there is one often overlooked threat which might have an unexpected and adverse impact on businesses’ productivity if it remains unaddressed.

A report by US research and consulting company Marsh & McLennan emphasizes the importance of paying attention to the “twin forces” of ageing workforce and its susceptibility to automation. The paper argues that older workers who are “often overlooked as viable sources of renewed productivity” are especially vulnerable to technological displacement.

Why: The main reasons explaining older professionals’ vulnerability include education levels, industrial structures, government expenditure and others.

“Indeed, employers that do not incorporate these workers into workplace strategies run the risk of exacerbating older worker non- and under-employment, deepening social instability, and losing out on a valuable opportunity to enhance productivity,”, the research says.

So what: Companies who fail to address such issues are likely to feel the impact of talent shortage, shifting market realities and regulatory pressure relatively more severely. In addition, such organizations risk falling prey to institutional knowledge leakage due to the retirement of experienced personnel.

China and Vietnam top the ranking of the labor markets with the highest risk, respectively with 76% and 69% of the tasks done by older workers at risk of being replaced by intelligent technology.

What next: On the flip side, the forces in question present opportunities to those enterprises agile enough to capture them. They could enhance their productivity leveraging the wealth of experience of older personnel to increase their competitiveness and tap into the multi-trillion dollar “longevity economy.”