Keeping pace with evolving workplace technology

Embracing change could help companies stay competitive and keep employees engaged

Technology is advancing in leaps and bounds and will inevitably affect the future workplace. In an ideal world technology could prove hugely beneficial; facilitating more efficient work and improving engagement levels among employees. But employers need to be wary of the immediate risks it also carries.

The ADP Research Institute’s Evolution of Work study of more than 2,400 employees and employers across 13 countries found that an alarming number of workers fear automation will replace people for repetitive work. Nearly half (45%) of those surveyed believe this to be the case. These concerns are felt most in the UK, with 55% feeling this way.

There is also a growing global fear that an increased reliance on technology will mean employees have to constantly shift roles in order to align these with ever-developing technology. Nearly four in 10 European workers believe they will have to learn new skills to keep up with these changes.

However, 37% of UK staff are technology advocates; believing it will improve connections with other employees. This is especially the case for global teams that are expected to communicate across borders and time zones. It looks like many workers will welcome technology as a way of making their lives easier, with more than half (54%) believing they will primarily rely on self-service to solve problems and get their job done.

The positives of technological developments are also felt by employers. Thirty-nine per cent of UK employers believe technology will enable organisations to adjust the performance of individuals and teams, as well as improve their performance (38%).

Employers are also confident that tools such as data analytics will have an impact on areas such as employee wellbeing. Senior management will be able to monitor their workforces’ engagement throughout the day and use this insight to better support employees in sustaining a happy and productive working life. A dramatic 60% of European organisations are advocates of using technology to improve employee wellbeing.

What does this mean for HR?

HR should ensure it keeps a balance between relying on technology and employees to carry out work processes. A company cannot lose its human touch and workplaces must be fuelled by support, encouragement and communication from employers. If technology is used in tandem with these core attributes it could unlock never before-seen potential within the workplace. Employees will then be able to complete tasks with efficiency and accuracy, all the while benefiting from better communication with colleagues.

To remain competitive and ultimately to advance business goals employers have to adapt to the changing times and start implementing new technologies. They must allow for flexibility; some workers will welcome state-of-the-art technologies while others may be wary of them. As long as organisations reiterate that technology is supporting - not encumbering - staff then employees will usually be happy to embrace change.

The complete Evolution of Work study can be found at

Annabel Jones is UK HR director at ADP