Digital transformation programmes have been hailed as the panacea to all business ills but, it seems, the race to boost workplace tech is not only wrecking employees’ work-life balance; it is creating conflict between younger and older workers.
According to a survey of 2,000 professionals across different industries, carried out by staffing business Walters People, four-fifths (80%) of employees hoped that tech-enabled remote working capabilities would give them a better work-life balance. However, the reality is far different, with just over two-fifths (42%) claiming that new working practices are wreaking havoc at home.
The business case for digitally transforming a workplace makes sense to most, with nearly three quarters (72%) of employers believing tech helps to improve workflow and overall staff productivity.
Other reasons for a more tech-centric workplace include to strengthen collaboration between staff and improve communications (58%), remain competitive in an increasing digitally-focused global environment (54%), help track results and streamline decision-making (22%), and attract and retain talent (17%).
Meanwhile, the vast majority (85%) of employees agree their productivity would be enhanced by technology, with a further 80% claiming working for a tech-savvy company would boost their morale, and 78% agreeing that tech would help enhance coordination between departments.
However, while the aim of digital transformation is to create a “smarter working” environment not everything in the garden is rosy.
Employees biggest fear is that the working day never ends and that they are expected to be “always on”; over two-fifths (42%) believe tech negatively impacts their work-life balance and does not allow them an opportunity to switch-off.
Further concerns include the struggle to learn and apply new technologies (31%) and the fear of technologies replacing jobs (22%).
However, the biggest issue is in the battle of the generations; while 44% of Millennials state that employers should adopt the latest technologies, this is significantly lower for Generation X (25%) and Baby Boomers (11%).
In fact, an overwhelming 60% of over 40s admitted to fearing the introduction of new technologies, with a third (35%) stating that they have yet to get a full grasp of current technologies used in the workplace.
This in turn is riling the under 40s, with a third (34%) of Millennials reporting that older workers not understanding new technology was the chief cause of conflicts in the workplace, followed by younger workers becoming frustrated at using outdated technology (33%).
Millennial professionals are also distinct from their older colleagues in their attitudes towards social media. Almost 40% of Millennials felt that employers should actively encourage workers to incorporate social media into their work, compared to less than a quarter (24%) of Generation X and just 10% of Baby Boomers.
Walters People Manchester director of Lucy Bisset said: “Digital transformation of the workplace should be a top-down initiative; executive support and adoption is crucial – especially when trying to prove the commercial and rational benefits for both the organisation and the individual.
“All too often in companies we see senior leaders stick to their traditional working methods while expecting employees to accommodate this; as well as new, innovative processes introduced by the IT department.
“The solution is simple; if there is a new intranet or instant messaging platform introduced then the senior business executives should communicate via these regularly. If the business has moved towards a cloud-based sharing system – then managers need to ensure that they are the primary users which will naturally drive employees to adopt these practices.”
Digital what? Most boards still stuck in the dark ages
Digital transformation spend to hit $7.4 trillion by 2022
Why CMOs are putting their faith in digital and data
Skills shortage triggers retail bonus for data experts