It’s me or the IT!

Poor tech leads to employees voting with their feet

Research commissioned by Sungard Availability Services has revealed that organisations risk losing their talent due to perceived shortcomings in digital working practices. The survey, conducted by specialist IT research agency Vanson Bourne, questioned 700 IT decision-makers and 1,400 office workers from businesses in the UK, Ireland, France, Sweden and the US.

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It found that in both the UK and Ireland one in five employees leave their jobs when their technology expectations are not met. And over a third (35%) of those UK workers that stay say they would be tempted to leave their current organisation if offered a role at a more digitally progressive company. This is because having access to the latest digital tools is considered important or very important by 81% of Britain’s office workers, with 33% admitting they would be embarrassed to work in an organisation without them. In fact, over a fifth (21%) of UK workers said they had already left jobs because they did not enable digital working practices.

Investment and upskilling

However, the findings suggest investment in digital tools is apparently only half the battle. Organisations must also invest in training their employees, ensuring they have the skills and knowledge to get the best possible use out of the new digital tools provided.

This is a problem for employees. While they recognise the need for the digital tools – with over half (56%) claiming they helped them work more efficiently – a distinct split emerges. 63% of UK respondents say the tools make their jobs easier while almost one-third (30%) claim technology makes their jobs more difficult.

This may be a reflection of the fact the technology may have been introduced without proper training as, worryingly, almost a quarter (23%) say they do not understand how to use the new digital tools their employer has provided. While just under a quarter (24%) were confident they could make the most of the tools available, a far greater proportion – almost half (49%) – believe they are usually able to make the most of the tools provided although their skills could still be improved.

Obstacles to be overcome

Over three quarters (76%) of employees say digital transformation is important to their organisation but 44% say progress towards achieving it is not as fast as management wants. When questioned about who has responsibility for driving through digital transformation, this was overwhelmingly laid at the feet of the IT department (68%) by UK respondents, with 45% believing it to be the Chief Technology Officer and 38% saying it should be driven by the Chief Digital Officer. A sizeable proportion (29%) believed the CEO should play a leading role.

Interestingly, just 14% of UK respondents believe it to be the responsibility of general employees meaning that regardless of which job-title should take the lion’s share of effecting digital transformation, 86% of British workers place strategic responsibility squarely at the feet of their entire board!

Having the right technical skills and receiving effective training were cited as the two biggest challenges hindering progress, with UK employees questioned criticising the quality and relevance (23%) of the training they had been given. Unsurprising given the concerns expressed previously.  But why does situation exist at all?

Well, it may be due to the perception that, according to a third of UK respondents, senior management assume employees already have the right skills and knowledge to use the digital tools available to them. However, almost a fifth of UK employees (18%) claimed digital tools changed too often to keep up with the training requirements. So for a variety of reasons, the survey suggests a substantial proportion of employees are being failed by their employers in terms of training needs.

Keith Tilley, Executive Vice President, global sales & customer services management at Sungard Availability Services, commented, “Digital tools – from mobile working solutions through to cloud-based collaboration applications – can be a game-changer for businesses and a powerful tool for growth. Happily, our research shows employees already understand the importance of digital transformation and are keen to learn more around the tools and techniques they will need in this new era of business.”

He stressed, “This is an important moment for the IT department, the CIO and their peers to further demonstrate the value they can offer. Not just in delivering digital tools but also in offering the guidance and knowledge to help employees gain the most value from them. By doing so, they really will have a true digital transformation on their hands and create a business ready to reap the rewards.”

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