Older workers most anxious about automation – The Actuary

The findings from Canada Life Group Insurance show that workers aged 50 and over are more likely to feel cautious, unsure and underprepared than those aged under 40.

It was also found that more than half of employees aged over 60 believe they will need to learn new skills to adapt to automation, compared with two-fifths of staff of all ages.

The researchers, which surveyed over 1,000 workers last month, said this suggests that older people are especially concerned about their skills becoming outdated.

While we tend to think about automation in terms of drastic changes like robot assembly lines, it is more widespread and subtle than many realise, said Canada Life Group Insurance marketing director, Paul Avis.

Employees are rightly cautious about its potential impact, with some already recognising it might redefine job roles or require staff to learn new skills."

It was also found that 37% of workers expect people to be replaced by automation, while 28% think the trend will leave staff feeling less in control of their working lives.

There are also fears around health and wellbeing, with 56% of respondents saying that the prospect of greater automation affects their mental health in some way.

Of these, a third say it creates increased pressure to be "always on", while a similar proportion are concerned that their job will fundamentally change as a result of automation.

A third are also anxious or worried about losing their job, and a quarter of employees are concerned that they wont be able to work with or understand new systems.

Almost one in five believe automation makes workers less likely to take time off sick for fear of appearing replaceable.

If automation becomes more widespread, two in five workers said that an employee assistance programme would show them that their employer cares about their health and wellbeing.

Income protection, private healthcare and wellbeing perks were also mentioned as initiatives that could help reassure them.

Despite fears around mental health and job security, the findings also show that 20% of employees are comfortable with the prospect of automation, while 17% are excited by it.

"Employers should communicate clearly with their staff and tackle any fears head-on to ensure increased automation isnt associated with constantly working and being always on," Avis said.

Support through employee assistance programmes provided with most group income protection products alongside other wellbeing benefits, can help to protect staff wellbeing during this complex transition period.

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Older workers most anxious about automation - The Actuary

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