3 minute read

Strength of organisation’s culture determines its technological readiness

Your employees are ready but are you? Despite widespread reports of employee fears of robots taking over their jobs, research finds people excited and hopeful about machine learning and artificial intelligence. The problem is that it’s the organisations themselves that are not ready for new technologies

Employees excited by new tech: strength of organisation’s culture determines its technological readiness

More than three quarters of employees believe advanced technology will improve their work experience, even in organisations where jobs have been eliminated by it. And nearly two thirds are hopeful and excited about the potential of artificial intelligence and machine learning.

But, says research of 40,000 employees and leaders across the world by workplace culture company OC Tanner, only a third of organisations are ready for new technologies. And yet where the most common types of new technology – machine learning, natural language processing and neural networks – have been introduced, 82% of organisations say it has impacted the employee experience positively.

With 26% of organisations planning to introduce this technology soon, understanding the fears and hopes of their employee population is critical. Of the near third of people who are afraid of how technology could impact them in the future, it is individuals rather than leaders who are most concerned. And the difference is more pronounced in industries more likely to be changed by these types of technologies, such as banking/finance, communications, energy, construction, manufacturing, oil and gas, IT and transportation. Millennials are the least worried, with baby boomers the most fearful.

The 2021 Global Culture Report finds that technological readiness is strongly tied to an organisation’s culture. It identifies four critical factors it calls the Cultural Technology Innovation Readiness Index (CTIR): intent, connection, experience and trust.

Cultural Technological Innovation Readiness Index

When employees rate the organisation highly in each CITR component there is a:

• 14% decrease in fearfulness of the future of technology

• 29% decrease in the perception that technology is hard to use at the organisation

• 70% increase in likelihood to believe new technology will create (rather than eliminate) jobs

Employees in cultures where there is a high trust in leaders or a strong belief that the organisation cares about employee wellbeing are more likely to accept the uncertainty that comes with new technologies. OC Tanner finds that cultures that excel in purpose, opportunity, success, recognition, wellbeing and leadership invariably have higher CITR scores.

Connection between culture and technology readiness infographic

Putting the employee and culture at the centre of decisions about technology are top priorities, says OC Tanner. “Organisations must think about technology as a living part of their culture and intentionally use it to empower employees and improve their overall experience,” it says.

When technology becomes well integrated with the culture, organisations see an impact on business research. According to the study these organisations have:

• 5x higher employee engagement

• 4x higher likelihood of growing revenue

• 63% better customer service

• 9% lower likelihood of employee layoffs

• 47% lower likelihood of an employee looking to leave

• 35% decrease in incidences of moderate to severe burnout

But it’s important to develop and follow change management plans for any new technology. Without such plans, adoption of the technology drops 51% and the overall employee experience decreases by 32%, finds the research.

Conversely, when communication, training and continual support is regular and comprehensive, employees are more likely to believe technology has improved their employee experience. Employees who are satisfied with technology at their organisation have a 49% greater employee experience.

Technology can strengthen work cultures. It’s up to you to leverage this.

Published 2 June 2021
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