Leaders failing to train employees on new tech developments

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Just 35% of employees or their representatives are currently consulted by leadership before introducing new technology in the workplace.

That’s according to the CIPD’s Workplace technology: the employee experience report, which builds on several studies looking at the rise of new technologies and effects they have on work and the workforce.

Where employees have not been consulted about tech change just 20% are positive about the likely impact on their job quality compared with 70% for those who have been consulted.

Half of employees surveyed said they need more skills and knowledge to carry out their role as a result of tech change and 40% said their tasks have become more complex.

The majority (80-93%) of employees don’t think that increased technology has improved business performance.

This could partially be due to an ‘always on’ work culture thanks to portable devices making it difficult to switch off from work.

Ed Houghton, head of research and thought leadership at the CIPD, said: "We'd like to see the HR profession doing a better sales job that explains to workers why new tech is going to help them individually and the wider business. This then needs to be followed up with an on-going training programme to ensure any financial investment is not wasted. “

Nearly a third (29%) found their portable device blurs boundaries between work and home life and 30% said it was hard to switch off.

The CIPD therefore recommended HR look at how digital wellbeing can be improved by ‘managing expectations’ around being visible online or providing informal spaces for teams to check in with one another.

Employees are also sceptical about employer’s use of tech, with 45% believing that monitoring is currently taking place in their workplace.

Despite 73% of employees feeling that introducing workplace monitoring would damage trust between workers and their employers, 86% said monitoring and surveillance would increase in the future.

HR must therefore make sure that the intended purpose, outcomes and boundaries of any monitoring are clearly explained and supported by policies, the CIPD said.

Despite their scepticism around certain parts of tech, employees were less concerned with automation.

The vast majority of employees thought it unlikely that part (72%) or all (91%) of their job will be automated in the next year.

This could explain why just 28% of employees have had training to prepare for role changes due to automation.

The 32% who do anticipate some degree of automation also expect improvements in their job quality.

Hougton added: "Our new research highlights that workers aren't so much worried about automation replacing their jobs as they are about the value new tech can bring to their organisation and the lack of training they receive to make full use of it.

"Bur work intensification is increasing and it's becoming harder to maintain a work-life balance. HR teams need to keep a close eye on this and get senior leaders to act as role models for the rest of their organisation."

The CIPD’s Workplace technology: the employee experience report was conducted between June 2019 and June 2020. It includes findings from a YouGov survey of 2,414 employees, prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, and viewpoints from four online focus groups of 38 participants between 26 May and 3 June 2020.
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