Workforce Should Be Involved in Selecting HR Tech, Report Says

PwC Disconnect Chart

Executives responsible for selecting business-technology solutions believe their experience and priorities align with those of their workforce. A new report from PwC says they’re often wrong.

That’s an important idea to bear in mind when it comes to HCM technology, since both customers and vendors generally agree that getting the workforce to actually use the tools is a key to their success. The growth of self-service mobile apps, for example, was largely driven by the ubiquity of smartphones among employees.

According to PwC’s report, Our Status With Tech at Work: It’s Complicated, 90 percent of C-level leaders say their organizations pay attention to employee needs when introducing new technology. However, just more than half of the workforce, 53 percent, agree.

PwC says the disconnect stems from “the experience gap” between executives and end users. It’s created a blind spot between strategic technology decisions and real-world execution and implementation. Not surprisingly, leaders often don’t have a clear understanding of how workers use technology to do their jobs, or about what motivates them to want technical tools in the first place. As a result, “both business ambition and the employee experience can suffer,” PwC said.

Bridging the Gap

In fact, the report’s most interesting data point is this: Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of workers know of systems that could help them improve their performance. “Hearing from employees,” the report said, “could open your eyes to tech you hadn’t considered.”

The key to bridging the gap is for decision-makers to understand what motivates their employees. PwC found that a worker’s willingness to adopt new technology is often, but not always, linked to improved efficiency and rewards that can enhance their status.

Specifically, about a third of the workforce (34 percent) wants to use technology because they’re curious and expect it will increase efficiency and teamwork. Another 37 percent are more likely to adopt new technology when it helps advance their careers or gain status through promotions or other types of recognition. The remaining 29 percent will try new tools when they help construct a predictable environment.

The report also found:

  • Ninety-two percent of C-suite executives are satisfied with the technology experience their company provides for employees doing the most important work. But only 68 percent of employees agree.
  • Nearly half (46 percent) of supervisors say they’re overwhelmed by technology at work. More concerning is that 61 percent believe technology requires them to do more transactional or administrative work than they’d like to.
  • A minority (around 45 percent) of employees prefer face-to-face interactions for performance reviews, getting help with difficult problems and asking questions of HR. At the same time, more than half (56 percent) believe technology decreases their opportunities for human interaction at work.
  • Continuous learning means something. Eighty-four percent say they do their work because they want to learn new things. But at the same time, only half of the workforce is satisfied with the resources available to help them learn to use new technology.

“Enterprises aren’t so much falling behind as struggling to keep up with what’s next,” the report said. It added, “the pressure on companies and individuals to keep up will only intensify: the rise of artificial intelligence will soon make even the most tech-savvy in the workforce look for ways to stay relevant.”

“Technology is such a central part of the overall work experience that you can’t separate it from your people agenda,” said Carrie Duarte, a PwC Partner and leader of its Workforce of the Future efforts. “Organizational leaders looking to institute a technology-led transformation or implement new workplace technology need to also now consider what motivates people when it comes to technology at work. It cannot be one or the other.”

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