Workplace Technology Falls Short When Compared To Consumer Tech

Nearly half of employees (48 percent) wish their workplace technology performed just like their personal technology, according to “The Engaging Opportunity Survey” by The Workforce Institute at Kronos. The survey found that fewer than one in five employees (18 percent) do not want their workplace technology and personal technology to function similarly.

workplace technology
(Source: The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated)

“Once upon a time, workplace technology was far more innovative and superior to anything that was available for consumer use,” said Joyce Maroney, executive director, The Workforce Institute at Kronos. “However, the tables have turned and the opposite is true today. The proliferation of the on-demand and gig economy apps that now dominate our everyday lives should prompt organizations to walk a mile in their employees’ shoes. Those who empower employees with intuitive, responsive solutions that match the ease of use and real-time nature of their favorite apps will gain an important advantage in their efforts to recruit and retain top talent.”

Employees in Mexico are least at ease using their workplace technology: just 8 percent feel their workplace solutions are more user-friendly than their personal technology. The sentiment is similar around the globe, as fewer than a quarter of employees in Germany (24 percent), the U.S. (22 percent), Canada (20 percent), France (16 percent), Australia and New Zealand (13 percent), and the U.K. (13 percent) feel their workplace technology is more user-friendly than their personal technology.

More than half of all employees surveyed worldwide (55 percent) agree it’s easier to search for new movies on Netflix than to check the details of their employee benefits. In the U.S., employees in public safety (58 percent), education (55 percent), retail (53 percent), healthcare (51 percent), and manufacturing (49 percent) all find Netflix simpler.

It’s not just Netflix that’s simpler. For the U.S. financial sector, 51 percent of employees say shopping on Amazon to quickly find what they need is easier than asking their manager to take off a sick day, while 53 percent of contract and field service workers – who often don’t report to a central office – say it’s easier to talk to personal digital assistants like Alexa, Cortana, and Siri than to their manager.

“Fair or not, employee expectations are set by the likes of Apple and Google,” said John Frehse, senior managing director, Ankura Consulting Group; advisory board member, The Workforce Institute at Kronos. “Those expectations are applied to all parts of their lives. Workforce management tools must provide the same ease of use, access to information, and level of value employees enjoy on their iPhone or Android device.”

In an ironic twist, just under half (43 percent) of logistics and transportation workers feel it’s easier to book a car through Lyft or Uber than to find out how many vacation days they have left.

“Mobile technology continues to radically reshape expectations. We no longer wait in line at our favorite coffee shops – with mobile ordering, our espresso or latte is ready when we walk in the door,” added Ian Parkes, director, Coleman Parkes Research. “Yet employees must still wait days or even weeks for a time-off request to be approved, creating unnecessary stress and anxiety. Our survey of nearly three thousand individuals in eight nations demonstrates employees are eager and ready for organizations to elevate their employee experience with a consumer-style approach to workplace solutions.”

Poor Technology Makes Work More Difficult

More than a third of employees surveyed worldwide (35 percent) feel their job is harder than it should be because of outdated processes and legacy technology, according to the research. This attitude is most prevalent in Mexico (45 percent), France (43 percent), and the U.K. (40 percent).

For U.S. industries, employees in state and local government (55 percent), public safety (53 percent), and finance (43 percent) feel most strongly that outdated processes and technology makes their job more difficult. Employees in contract and field services (38 percent), logistics and transportation (33 percent), retail and healthcare (both 30 percent), and manufacturing (29 percent) do as well.

A Generation Gap?

Younger employees in the U.S. are less tolerant of poor workplace technology than older employees, according to the report. While just a fifth (20 percent) of Boomers think outdated processes and technology make their job harder than it should be, that figure steadily increases for Gen Xers (34 percent), older Millennials (38 percent), younger Millennials (40 percent), and Gen Z (39 percent).¹

Just a quarter of employees surveyed worldwide (25 percent) disagree with the notion that their workplace technology makes common activities more complicated by adding extra or unnecessary steps.

“Employees from all demographics are beginning to expect – and in many cases demand – workplace technology to be as easy to adopt as their latest consumer applications,” said China Gorman, managing director – America, UNLEASH; advisory board member, The Workforce Institute at Kronos. “Workplace technology needs to be intuitive and easy. No more manuals. No more classes. Adoption as easy as learning the latest online game.”

The final installment in the three-part “Engaging Opportunity” research series from The Workforce Institute at Kronos (view part one, part two) was conducted with Coleman Parkes Research. More than 2,800 hourly and salaried employees across a variety of industries in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Mexico, New Zealand, the U.K., and the U.S. were surveyed to explore the impact existing and emerging technologies have on the employee experience.

¹ Generations are defined as follows: Gen Z, 18-20; young Millennials, 21-27; older Millennials, 28-37; Gen X, 38-54; Baby Boomers, 55+.