Most Employees Say They’re Left Out of Technology Advances

New Technology

Employers spend increasing amounts of money on advanced technologies like AI, automation and robotics, However, they often miss opportunities to leverage those investments because they don’t involve employees in the process of identifying solutions, and they fail to provide the training employees need to take advantage of them.

Only 19% of U.S. workers say their company invests in the right technologies to help them do their job, according to a survey by Eagle Hill Consulting. Not even a quarter, 23%, believe technology changes have had a positive impact on their organization.  

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At the same time, more than two-thirds say they need to acquire more skills to adapt to advancing technology. However, only 22% believe their company gives them the support they require to take advantage of new solutions.

“[Our] research finds that companies aren’t asking their employees critical questions before new technologies are deployed, and they aren’t training employees to utilize new technologies,” said Eagle Hill Consulting CEO Melissa Jezior. “Technology continues to be deployed at a rapid pace, but it’s problematic that engaging and upskilling the workforce is lagging.”

Eagle Hill’s research found “a significant gap” in values between technology investments and how employees experience them.

For one thing, while they understand the potential value of technology advances, they don’t believe new tech always improves performance. Part of them may be the result of a perceived lack of support: While two-thirds of workers say they need more skills to adapt to technology, just 19% believe they get the training necessary. And barely 20% say their company asks for input on technology decisions. Those that do tend to ask after a solution has been purchased.

Transformation’s Not Advanced Technology

Eagle Hill’s research isn’t surprising when you consider how many tales executives and organizational specialists have of transformation efforts gone astray. One common thread among their stories: Companies confuse transformation with the upgrading of a technical stack.

“I don’t really think transformation is about the technology, ever,” said Miles Overholt, CEO of the management consulting firm Strategia Analytics. Technology helps organizations establish new ways of working, he explained, but ultimately the goal of change is become more effective and more efficient. The Covid-19 pandemic, for example, changed people’s perceptions of work for reasons that go beyond the use of Zoom.

Employers can help themselves get the most out of new technology when they understand the nuts and bolts of the challenges they face, business leaders say. As Eagle Hill points out, “new technology won’t override outdated business processes, broken cultures or skills gaps.” In addition, most executives say it helps to involve employees as you analyze problems and consider solutions. One way or another, after all, human workers will implement and maintain the new technologies the organization adopts.

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