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Employees believe workplace tech is holding them back

09 Nov 2015

Technology may be the great enabler of workplace change, but a new Australian study shows more than half of employees surveyed don’t believe their workplace is providing the latest technology for staff.

The report, commissioned by Canon, shows a disconnect between employees and employers, with 66.4% of bosses believing believing the workplace was equipped with the latest technology while only 49.5% of employees felt the same.

The report, which surveyed 300 employers and 1010 employees across Australia, suggests there is an untapped opportunity for improved workplace productivity and creativity, with the provision of workplace technology and workplace trust.

Effie Fox, Director, Canon Oceania HR and communications, says the report shows Australian businesses typically have a way to go to catch up to the expectations of employees – but that most are willing to embrace the changes required, which is often the first step. 

“Increasingly, Australian businesses are recognising that the workplace and its people should be at the top of the business agenda; consequently, we wanted to look at whether that recognition is translating into effective action,” Fox says.

The Work in Evolution report also suggests a high level of complacency, with 67.2% of employers admitting that their workplaces are ‘one-size-fits-all’ and 64.1% conceding their workplaces could be noisy, distracting and lacked privacy. Sixty-six percent said hadn’t considered changing those workplaces.

That complacency is potentially leading to reduced productivity, with 41.7% of employees saying they didn’t think their workplace drove productivity, 41.2% disagreeing that their workplace fostered creativity and innovation and 50.5% saying their workplace didn’t provide the latest technology for staff.

When it comes to two of the main drivers of modern workplace reform – flexible and remote working – there was also a disconnect.

While 77% of employers said they would consider allowing more flexible working and 71.9% would consider enabling more people to work remotely, employees had differing views, with only 60.1% believing employers would consider more flexible working and 52.7% thinking employers would be open to more remote working.

More than a a quarter (28.1%) of employers were not considering enabling more people to work remotely.

“Employers must be both alert and agile, and respond to these changes, otherwise they are at risk of being overtaken by competitors – as well as missing out on attracting and retaining the best talent,” Fox says.

“This means addressing legacy working strategies, styles and policies that do not support cultures of trust, diversity and inclusion,” she adds.

Somewhat frighteningly, while 95.9% of employees recognise the importance of trust in a positive workplace culture, 27.6% of employees didn’t have trust in their bosses.

Change and trust expert, Donna Meredith, principal at Interaction Associates Australasia, says businesses need to take action to ensure they are ready to handle the inexorable changes already well underway. And, she cautions, preparing for change takes more than just a project plan.

“Change efforts often fail because leaders focus on the technical aspects – installing the system, rearranging the environment, redrawing the organisational chart – while overlooking the changes in behaviour, skills and attitudes required to make change ‘work’,” Meredith says.

Canon itself has recently embarked on a change program focusing on people, collaboration and culture to create a high performance working environment.

“Since making the change, we are already seeing a more engaged and collaborative response to the work environment,” says Fox.

Canon says trust is the secret ingredient: “Pay keen attention to trust, leadership and collaboration as together they define the ‘formula’ for high performance. Involved employees share in the responsibility to deliver strong results – they care, they have ‘skin in the game’ and they deliver results.”

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