The key to keeping today’s digital worker productive, positive about their job, and around at all? Arm them with the most updated technology possible, according to a new study by Unisys Corporation that explores the importance of deploying current and future digital capabilities in the workplace in the U.S. and 11 other countries around the world.
- More than half (51 percent) of digital workers at “technology laggard” organizations expressed frustration with their employer, as compared to only six percent of workers at “technology leader” organizations – a difference of 750 percent.
- The level of frustration directly correlates with the threat of attrition: workers at technology laggards (11 percent) were 450 percent more likely to want to leave to go work elsewhere, as compared to their counterparts at technology leaders (two percent). This is particularly concerning considering that leader organizations were represented by less than one-third of all workers surveyed in the U.S. (30 percent), slightly less than the global average (32 percent) and the eighth lowest total of the 12 countries surveyed.
- Devices serve as the biggest pain point for workers at “technology laggard” organizations, with 45 percent of these workers complaining that they are held back from being more productive by outdated devices, or 136 percent more likely as those who work for “technology leader” organizations (19 percent).
- The “Bring Your Own Device” to work movement, which relates primarily to smartphones, brings with it potential security risks. Nearly two-thirds of digital workers (65 percent) who do so said they download apps and websites not supported by their organization’s IT group because they are “better than what my company provided” or “their company did not provide an alternative.”
“The data show a clear new paradigm in today’s U.S. digital workplace: nearly half of those people who work for technology laggards feel like outdated devices are limiting their productivity, with more than half frustrated and many with one eye on the door as a result,” said Mickey Davis, global vice president of Managed Workplace Services, Unisys. “Their frustration is very real and has a tangible emotional impact – and when you boil it down, it’s about access. Workers want to be able to do their job anywhere, and do it easily, without having to jump through hoops. Equipping devices with the right applications and productivity tools is critically important to access and engagement.”
Technology, Productivity And The Bottom Line
The global study surveyed more than 12,000 workers in April 2018 across 12 countries, gauging the attitudes of today’s digital workers on how the technology used in the workplace impacts their day-to-day lives. The survey categorized leader and laggard organizations based on respondents qualifying their employer as either ahead of or behind on technology when compared to the competition.
While many business owners know that unhappy employees cost them money, many would be shocked at how high that cost actually can be. A 2017 report by research and polling company Gallup found that actively disengaged employees cost the U.S. $483 billion to $605 billion each year in lost productivity. The cost of attrition cannot be overlooked, either – studies commonly predict that every time a business replaces a salaried employee, it costs six-to-nine months’ salary on average to do so.
“The large Unisys multi-country survey provides statistical evidence of what I have found in my fieldwork with tech workers in the Silicon Valley and worldwide: digital workers want to develop their skills, want to accomplish their assignments while solving problems and accomplish the job well,” said Dr. Clair Brown, professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley, who is participating in today’s Unisys press conference at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. “Tech workers become discouraged when they are not keeping up with technology and learning new skills to do better, more creative work. Frustrated workers result in the company experiencing higher costs, lower productivity and higher turnover with less satisfied customers. Companies must understand where they are on the technology curve, and recognize the benefits with moving up the tech curve. Being a tech laggard means a company is at risk, both of losing its competitive edge as well as for lost revenues. Bright and motivated digital talent seeks out companies that provide the high-tech tools, know-how and training required for the company and worker to succeed.”
The Future Of The Workplace
According to the survey, 31 percent of respondents viewed Internet of Things (IoT) technology as the emerging technology with the most potential to transform their workplace environment in the next five years, with 27 percent citing artificial intelligence (AI) as a close second. While a majority of respondents cited familiarity with these terms, only 24 percent and 20 percent, respectively, said they understood IoT and AI well.
Importantly, this lack of understanding plays strongly into what people believe the impact of emerging technology will be on their workplace. Notably, the survey found that 39 percent of workers at leader organizations believe that technology and automation could make their jobs obsolete in five years – meaning they are 56 percent more likely to be concerned that their jobs could be replaced by machines in the next five years than workers at technology laggard companies.
“The fear of the unknown is powerful, and that is what these statistics bear out,” said Davis. “However, those organizations that modernize their technology and business processes in the right way will be best positioned to lead. Coupled with the proper training, automation and intelligence tools can help empower workers by freeing them from tedious tasks so they can deliver better results. We believe AI will enhance their workers, not replace them.”