There is often a disconnect between employers and employees when it comes to technology. 90% of business executives say their company considers people’s needs when introducing new technology, but only 53% of staff say the same, according to a recent study by PwC (formerly Price Waterhouse Coopers).
PwC surveyed 12,000 people from Canada, China and Hong Kong, Germany, India, Mexico, the UK, and the US to share their views about the digital tools they use in their daily work. Overarching themes included: 1) employees want to be more involved in the process of selecting technnology; 2) they see value in more training; 3) people don’t want interactions with machines to fully replace the “human connections they need to have a genuine sense of belonging at work”; and 4) they like digital assistance when it allows them to be more efficient with routine tasks so they can do more meaningful work.
So how can you use technology to support better employee experience and performance in 2019?
1. Involve employees in tech decisions
Engage employees to provide feedback about how they use technology in their jobs and what they need and want from those tools. Ask how the solution will fit into the workflow of your organization. Does it accelerate work performance or complicate the work process?
The overall experience people have at work with IT can have “a ripple effect across the organization, shaping everything from how engaged people are to their enthusiasm for delivering a superior customer experience,” reports PwC.
2. Focus on technologies that free up employee time for more engaging work
“Provide your employees with technology that frees them up so they can focus on value-adding assignments. Automate any functional duties that software can do as well as (or better than) a person,” Martha Bird of ADP wrote in an April 2018 entrepreneur.com article.
The PwC survey supports Bird’s statement: “From choosing devices, to picking apps, to opting for voice over text, employees look for options that help them do their best work” and “free them up to do more important and engaging work.”
3. Remember the changing face of the work force: Millennials
In 2016, millennials became the largest generations in the U.S. labor force (The Pew Research Center), and we need to understand their needs and ethos in order to help support their experience and performance.
In an April 2018 article in Forbes, Vincent Bieri, Nexthink co-founder and board member, explains, “Companies should focus on offering greater flexible working and career development to their employees in order to enhance their experience. While technology is an integral part of the lives of millennials, employers appear slow to understand and implement automation, analytics and other technologies that can facilitate these improvements.”
Millenials are called the “purpose over paycheck” generation, and will typically work over 40 hours a week; they remain “on” during “off hours”, blurring work and life together, especially if they feel they are making a difference. With this in mind, an organization should consider the mobile capabilities of its technology to ensure workers have the tools they need when and where they need them. Also consider digital assist technologies that enable them to focus on more strategic thinking, collaboration and creative work.
4. Use technology to bring people and teams together
Technology can facilitate communication and collaboration between teams and allow for more engaging and creative work. Additionally, employees value human connections in order to have have a genuine sense of belonging rather than working in silos.
“Successful technology can bridge gaps between teams who think and operate in different ways, writes Martha Bird in her entrepreneur.com article, “Bringing them together on a common platform enables them to easily share ideas in a space that translates well for both parties. Do this, and you’ll harness the power of cross-team collaboration.”
5. Provide tech training
A study by Randstad North America, a global human resources provider, revealed that while 58% of employees have access to the latest digital tools, their employers may not be training them adequately. And the PwC survey data also shows that only 50% of staff and 64% of managers are satisfied with the resources they have available to them for tech training. This illustrates a huge opportunity for employers to provide additional tech training that employees report they would like to receive.
The Randstad study also offers a few suggestions about how tech training can become part of the corporate culture: “As you bring new digital tools into your office environment and experience, setting aside appropriate training resources so people can use them to their fullest is key… They don’t all have to be top-down training sessions. Tap into current employees’ existing technology skills to lead lunch-and-learn sessions or demos during all-staff meetings on how to use your latest and greatest technology.”
The bottom line is that for the best employee experience, technology should “be so seamlessly integrated into the way your team works that you and your employees don’t even notice you’re using it. In short, it fades into the background,” says Martha Bird in Entrepreneur.