AI and Older Workers:
Resisting, Navigating, or Embracing the Wave of Digital Transformation
Every day, we are flooded with talk of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its almost surreal powers. It’s either hailed as the answer to our unsolvable problems or seen as a malevolent force out to steal our jobs and position in humanity. As it relates to our workforce, and especially older employees, will AI render folks obsolete, or will it revolutionize the way we work, making us more efficient than ever before?
Gone are the days when the digital revolution was merely a plotline in science fiction movies. It is now our reality. This transformative wave brings both excitement and trepidation, particularly among older generations. The fear of being left behind in a technology-driven world is real and haunting. Will there be a place for all of us in this emerging landscape?
The Hurdles Encountered by Seasoned Workers
The concerns and their corresponding obstacles are not unfounded. The barriers for older workers encompass a broad spectrum, including feelings of digital insecurity, battling against external and internalized stereotypes and ageism, limited access to training programs, and navigating evolving workplace dynamics. Dr. Sajia Ferdous’ illuminating research sheds light on these challenges, emphasizing the sense of displacement experienced by older workers in tech-saturated environments.
The Indispensable Contributions of Older Workers
On the other hand, could it be that older workers hold a distinct leg-up in this advancing digital landscape? Jacob Zinkula, in his enlightening article, “Older generations have an advantage in the AI boom: people skills and experience that can’t be automated away,” contends that the older generations possess a wealth of people skills, profound experience, and the art of mentorship. These attributes, refined over years of personal and professional experiences, cannot be coded or automated, making them a unique asset in any organization. (Although, it should be noted that Hitachi is using AI to learn from and capture the qualitative expertise of experienced workers!)
Fostering a Collaborative Future
In this quickly evolving scenario, do we need to choose between AI and experience, or can we embrace and recognize the harmony they can create together? Could AI automate our more mundane tasks, freeing up staff to engage in higher levels of planning, employee and customer engagement? The efficiency driven by AI can gracefully intertwine with the rhythm of age-old wisdom, resulting in a harmonious and thriving work environment. Our challenge, and indeed our greatest opportunity, lies in leveraging the strengths of both AI and our senior workforce, and forging pathways that celebrate and value the uniqueness of each.
Guiding Principles for a Brighter Tomorrow:
As we have discovered in other newsletters, merely throwing people and concepts together is not a successful strategy for change or transformation. Collaboration and integration must be thoughtful, intentional, and strategic. Below are some suggestions that contribute to a more rewarding incorporation of time-tested wisdom and experience with the promise and efficiencies of new technologies:
- Develop tailor-made training programs that cater to the different learning curves of older employees, helping them familiarize themselves with AI.
- Establish mentorship programs where seasoned workers and AI experts collaborate, ensuring knowledge flows both ways.
- Highlight the irreplaceable human touch that older workers bring, which AI cannot replicate.
- Foster an Age-Friendly Business® environment where everyone, regardless of their age, feels empowered and valued.
In this intricate dance of technology and humanity, let’s lead with empathy, understanding, and a vision for a workplace that values both the depth of experience and the boundless possibilities of AI. Let’s stay inspired, remain adaptable, and always champion the blend of heart and innovation. Together, we can craft a future where wisdom and innovation seamlessly intertwine, creating a tapestry that reflects the richness of our collective journey.
Rhonda Latreille, MBA, CPCA,
Founder and CEO,
Better Body and Better Health Through AI
Discover the vast potential of AI in revolutionizing our physical health. From early disease detection to personalized treatment plans and robot-assisted surgeries, AI is reshaping healthcare. Stay proactive with wearable devices equipped with AI algorithms that monitor real-time health data. Experience the convenience of AI-powered virtual health assistants that offer instant responses, schedule appointments, and send medication reminders. Bridge the healthcare gap between rural and urban areas with AI-driven telemedicine platforms. Embrace the digital age and make AI integration a necessity for a healthier and stronger future
Courage and Change
“Take chances, make mistakes.
That’s how you grow.
Pain nourishes your courage.
You have to fail in order to
practice being brave.”
Mary Tyler Moore