The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) technology in the workplace isn't necessarily news, though its potential to enable the four-day work week so sought after by many employees just might be.
A new study by background checking company Checkr reveals that 57% of the 3,000 currently employed American adults surveyed would take a pay cut if they could work a four-day week as a result of AI helping them get their job done faster. Remove AI from the equation and that number rockets to 86% of people saying they would take some sort of pay cut in order to work a day less a week.
With many companies now offering a four-day work week — including big name players like Amazon, Microsoft and Toshiba — it's perhaps not surprising that workers are giving some serious thought into what they would do in exchange for less work. That said, many respondents still expressed uncertainty when it came to the more general role of AI in the workplace, and attitudes differed slightly by age group.
Millennials and Gen X Want 4-Day Week Most
According to Checkr's AI Workplace Survey 2023, millennial and Gen X workers are most desirous of a four-day work week, with 82% and 81% respectively indicating that they would take some sort of pay cut to work less hours or a shorter week. Boomers and Gen Zers are also mostly in favor of a more modest salary in exchange for less work, with 75% and 76% of these respective generational groups agreeing with this sentiment.
However, while Gen Zers were generally less keen to sacrifice their pay to work less, those that were willing would shave up to 15% from their salary, compared to the 10% pay cut Boomers, Millennials and Gen Xers agreed would be acceptable.
For background purposes, a USC Research Guide categorizes Baby Boomers (or Boomers) as those born between 1946 and 1964; Gen X as those born between 1965 and 1976; Gen Y / Millennials as anyone born from 1977 to 1995; and Gen Z as the years 1995 – 2010.
Fears AI Will Force Pay Cuts Regardless
So far, so predictable perhaps in that workers would…ahem, like to work less? That said, color us surprised that so many would actually take a pay cut to make this happen.
This doesn't mean employees aren't extremely wary of AI and its impact on the workplace, however. The survey goes on to establish that 78% of all workers are either concerned or undecided about artificial intelligence's potential to negatively affect their pay. A similar number (74%) of respondents indicated fears that AI might ultimately replace them at work.
While it would be easy to dismiss these concerns as tin foil hat thinking, sadly there appears to be mounting evidence supporting such theories. Of the many tech companies making layoffs lately, Checkr points out that IBM has explicitly said it will stop hiring for roles that can now be automated using AI.
Learning to Embrace the Uncertainty
It's clear from looking at this and similar studies that modern workers are highly uncertain about the impact AI will have on the workplace of the future. In fact, Tech.co's own research shows that nearly 50% of business leaders would consider AI over new hires, following closely in the vein of IBM.
That said, there are many different businesses uses for ChatGPT and other AI tools beyond just keeping employee overheads down. In many cases, workers can feel empowered by the fact that AI is now (generally) capable of handling some of their more mundane tasks like data entry and emailing.
One final question raised by Checkr's survey is therefore an important one: how many bosses actually know their employees are using AI? It found that over two-thirds (69%) of all workers were scared of telling their bosses about the ways in which they were using artificial intelligence to complete their jobs. In the long run, the kind of breakdown in employer-employee communications this statistic suggests might be the biggest threat of all.