The Trouble with Technology … is Technology

The rapid-fire pace of digital change makes learning new tech more complicated.
By: | October 24, 2018 • 3 min read

Implementing new technology at work will become, if it isn’t already, the new normal for all industries. But, who makes the decision to implement the tech—is it just, say, the IT department, or a C-level executive? If yes, you’ll likely find a disconnect between leadership’s view of the technology and employees’ views of it.

According to a recent report from PwC that surveyed 12,000 executive, managers and staff, 90 percent of the executives said that their company focuses on employees’ needs when introducing new technology, but only half of their employees agreed (53 percent). That’s a huge gap that, when left alone, will have negative consequences.

“The experience gap matters. When you don’t have a clear and accurate understanding of how your people use technology in their jobs, and what they need and want from those tools, the overall experience people have at work can suffer,” write the PwC report authors.

They add that a lukewarm employee experience can impact everything from engagement to retention and often has a “ripple effect” that spreads throughout the organization.

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To remedy this, employers should not only give their workers a say about what new tech to adopt, but also access to resources to properly learn it. The PwC report found that employees are more than willing to dedicate time every month to learn—a median response was 15 hours per month. Unfortunately, only 50 percent of employees and 64 percent of managers are satisfied with the resources they have access to for learning about new technology. The report authors suggest that this result should trigger new avenues for learning and development—and fast.

Any prolonged delay in helping employees adopt and adapt to new tech may impact their overall motivation, which is moderate right now. PwC found that 34 percent of the workforce is motivated to learn new tech/digital skills out of sheer curiosity and “the promise of better efficiency and teamwork.” Another 37 percent are motivated to learn if it will help them advance their careers or gain “status” (i.e., a promotion or external recognition).

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The remaining 29 percent aren’t all that interested in learning because they prefer the established work routines. Part of this hesitation could be because fewer than half of this population (47 percent) reported that their company “effectively communicates the importance of digital skills for the success of the organization,” compared with 82 percent of the “status seekers” and 77 percent of the “curious” group.

Nurturing the desire to learn new digital skills and technology, no matter the underlying motivation, is key for both employers and employees. But the first step is getting everyone on board. To do so, employers must diversify the decision makers.

“Choose people from a range of levels and departments across the company to play roles in the planning, selection, and design of technology tools,” write the authors. “Focus groups, feedback mechanisms, employee surveys and other methods of giving people a voice can help leaders make more people-focused tech decisions and fuel employee buy-in and interest in tech at work.”

Danielle Westermann King, staff writer for HRE, received her bachelor’s degree in English from Temple University. She has written and edited articles for various print and online healthcare publications and is now setting her sights on human resources. She can be reached at [email protected]

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