AI will change our future – whether for better or worse, AI is coming and with technology driving most aspects of our lives, it is not wrong to believe that AI and automation will soon (if it hasn’t done so already) introduce innovations that will replace jobs previously done by humans. Even with the potential time lags between technology adoption and its impact, some workers may be displaced and others will see their wages fall, depending on the industry. Disruption due to automation will hit a variety of industries where the significant portion of jobs are routine based (e.g manufacturing, retail call centres, etc..) Moreover, it will also cause employees to compete with the speed of automation. Those who automate faster will be at an advantage and those who fail to keep up may lose their jobs. With efficiency taking over efficacy, companies are now looking for the best way to utilise their resources.
Innovations in digitisation, artificial intelligence and automation are creating performance and productivity opportunities for businesses and the way they reshape employment. With the possibility of automation in many industries, employers have the choice to either let go of the people whose jobs can be automated or acknowledge the responsibility they have towards their employees. One way employers could do this is by keeping those people on and support a four day working week. A shorter week can be both more efficient for businesses and provide a better work-life balance for employees.
But what does this mean for employers and how they achieve their CSR? Companies and their employees could leverage the extra day off by using the time to work on their charitable activities, which they usually don’t get to do in a typical working week. Having a day off for charity could get rid of the barriers that prevent employees from giving back to their local communities. Corporate giving, through charity and volunteering, usually takes a back seat in the day to day operations of the company in the midst of project deadlines, for which reason employees are not able to give as much time as they’d like. While employees may be engaged in other charitable activities in their spare time, employee volunteering must be a structured company policy that not only provides an opportunity and support for employees to engage in volunteering but also gives them the time to do so. This ties in with the fact that leading employers are finding ways to use charitable efforts to connect employees to their work and ultimately drive a more productive and engaged workforce. Fostering the connection can generate more than just goodwill but it can also boost individual morale and team building.
Despite the challenges associated with the implications of automation and the displacement of jobs, the prospect of incorporating employee volunteering into corporate policy in the backdrop of a four day week shows a bright future for increasing workplace efficiency and making employees (along with companies) more responsible towards their local communities. Looking forward into the future, this form of corporate giving has the opportunity to thrive in the realm of artificial intelligence and automation. That being said, the idea of increased productivity can be hindered by the individual’s actual motivation to work on a ‘day off’. It can be argued that a typical employee would rather spend the day for themselves or for doing other office work that they normally don’t get the time for than spend it on volunteering. Moreover, is it reasonable for companies to support a four day week and expect their employees to engage in volunteering?