Digital Transformation Programs Are Leaving Workers Behind
September 24, 2019

Sandeep Kishore
Zensar

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The lack of proper IT tools is killing the morale of white-collar and higher-level professionals in the US, according to new research from Zensar.

More than half of such professionals involved in the study, titled Living Digital Survey, said their company's digital transformation priorities are focused on how to increase profits instead of empowering workers.

Most also said that IT tools play a key role in productivity, and nearly a third said having the proper IT tools makes them happier.

In addition, close to half said if their company's digital transformation priorities focused more on how to empower people, morale would improve.

Outfitting Workers with the Proper IT Tools Is a Win-Win

More than three-fourths (76%) of the 1,000-plus survey group said having the digital tools they need at work makes them more productive. More than half (53%) said it makes them more successful. The same share said they would be more empowered to better manage workflow if provided with the IT tools they needed, and 42% said it speeds up boring tasks.

42% also said it would result in better worker morale. A third said it makes them smarter. Nearly as many (28%) said it makes them happier. And 38% said a focus on worker empowerment via IT would allow the company itself to change faster.

Yet Many Companies Don't Do It – and the Fear Factor May Be to Blame

At least a third of these professionals indicated that fear could be preventing their employers from outfitting them with all the digital tools they need to succeed at work. Nearly a third (31%) said their company has a wait-and-see approach to new technology. More than that (44%) said their employers are too concerned with incremental expenses to invest in new technology.

Supervisor inattention to worker needs is also to blame. Less than half (47%) of white-collar workers and just more than a third (37%) of their higher-level coworkers said their bosses understand their technological needs.

Companies That Don't Provide Proper IT Tools Suffer from a Fatal Disconnect

Half of the survey group said if their employers' digital transformation efforts focused more on employee empowerment, it would be easier for them to collaborate with coworkers. More than half (53%) said technology makes companies better.

Yet only 65% said they feel very connected with their company's mission; less than half (48%) said they are aware of their company's digital transformation strategy.

Surprisingly, 53% of white-collar workers feel connected only to the people on their team. And just more than a third (37%) only feel connected to people in their nearby vicinity. Those shares are even lower among higher-level – so-called gold-collar – workers, at 50% and 30%. With the proper IT technology, however, companies could improve connections within their organizations.

IT Matters to Workers of All Ages

People tend to assume only the youngest workers place a high value on having the technology they need at work. But Zensar's research reveals that these digital natives are not alone.

68% of the 18 to 34 age group said having the digital tools they need at work makes them more productive. But an even higher portion — 80% — of the 35 to 54 age group connect proper IT tools to their own productivity. 83% of workers age 55 and older agreed.

The 35 to 54 age group is the most bullish on technology's effect on business in particular and life in general. When asked how they feel about technology, 57% of this group said it makes life better, and 58% said it makes companies better. And nearly half (46%) of this age group said they believe technology will free up people to do more creative thinking.

Digital Transformation Has a Human Component

It's understandable that some companies' digital transformation priorities are focused on how to increase profits. But rather than focusing exclusively on the financial aspects of digital transformation, businesses need to take a big-picture view of what they're trying to accomplish and how they can unlock exponential value today to create the enterprises of tomorrow. That should include understanding what digital tools workers want and need to get the job done.

Organizations can then make the most informed decisions about and investments in IT technology. And they can ensure that they and their customers benefit from the quality performance that highly engaged employees deliver.

Sandeep Kishore is CEO of Zensar
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