As we move closer to Labor Day and continue to emerge from pandemic-related restrictions, returning to work (and what that could mean in terms of organizing the workweek and the workplace) is on the minds of most American workers and employers. The pandemic has increasingly exposed how advances in technology, communication systems, cloud services and AI-based tools can help business operations and impact labor relations. It has also accelerated the need for coordinated strategies from policy makers, educators and industry leaders to educate and prepare workers for the future workforce, upskill the current workforce to work in a digitized environment, and address worker transition from the workplace. Indeed, among the goals of the National Artificial Intelligence Initiative Act of 2020 (NAIIA), which aims to position the US as a world leader in the development and implementation of robust AI as an integral part of national strategy and security, and train a workforce with the skills AI to create, use and interact with AI systems, solve the problem of technological movement of workers and integrate AI into the economy and society. A study by the National Science Foundation and the National Research Council of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine regarding the current and future impact of AI on the US workforce is due to be published by January 1, 2023, which is expected to lead to recommendations on challenges and opportunities related to these questions.
The challenges will increase as jobs transform. Employers play an important role in shaping this transition because the way workers are hired and paid affects the structure of the workforce and the social safety net. At a minimum, employers should ask themselves the following questions and incorporate these considerations into their future plans:
- What is the role of human capital versus AI in our workplace? Should our workers work together with AI-based tools and machines, work independently, or will their positions be replaced, requiring training for new positions?
- How can we attract, motivate and retain our human capital in a variety of work environments and in their current and new roles? What can we do to improve their health and well-being? What programs will encourage them to work hard remotely?
- How to build trust in hybrid environments? How can we prepare our employees for technology and data-driven environments?
- Do we comply with applicable labor laws that affect our use of AI in the workplace?
- What training and/or training assistance can we provide to our employees?
- What should we consider when offering a job transition policy or exit package to laid-off workers?
For more information on this topic see:
Artificial Intelligence in the Workplace and the Future of Employer Benefits (New York University). Overview of Employee Compensation and Executive Compensation 2021): https://www.mintz.com/sites/default/files/media/documents/2021-10-01/Artificial%20Intelligence%20in%20the%20Workplace%20and%20The%20Future%20of%20Employer-Provided %20Employee%20Benefits.pdf
EEOC releases guidance on how the use of artificial intelligence in employment decisions may violate ADA: https://www.mintz.com/insights-center/viewpoints/2226/2022-06-08-eeoc-issues-guidance-addressing how to use artificial
Busy July NLRB is a harbinger of future coordinated federal action between the NLRB, FTC, and DOJ: https://www.mintz.com/insights-center/viewpoints/2226/2022-08-15-nlrbs-busy-july -harbinger-of-the-future -coordinated-federal
And we can be sure that automation will be accompanied by greater use of AI, immersive technologies such as AR, VR and Metaverse, and of course, this will increase the need for greater investment in cybersecurity. We will see these trends take shape immediately and continue to gain momentum as companies everywhere turn to technology to drive continuous transformation.