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Are we headed for a ‘Techxit?’ It’s time to get digital culture right


June 8, 2016


Almost a third of UK businesses are still not embracing digital tech, but that’s ok – as soon as all those digital-native millennials start flooding into the workplace they’ll fill in the gaps, right?

Not necessarily…

Our study of 3,000 UK workers, published today, found the most important factor in determining digital roll-out success is not age, sector or experience – it’s culture.

The research shows that creating a positive digital culture will inspire confidence in workers and enable companies to properly embrace digital change. Not doing so, on the other hand, could lead to digital disengagement, ultimately harming employee productivity and engagement.

As a result, British businesses are in danger of facing a ‘Techxit’, if they don’t get an effective digital culture in place. Employees are craving clear digital leadership to drive the organisation forward, and the boardroom must ensure digital delivers on its promise to help drive productivity and organisational effectiveness.

In this post I’m going to explore some of the most interesting findings from the survey, while suggesting ways you can create the right digital culture within your own business.

Workers are positive about digital

Productivity in the UK is 17% below the G7 average and has stagnated since the 2008/9 recession. But what we’re seeing is a real appetite from UK workers to be more productive and embrace tools that allow for more menial tasks to be automated.

Our research shows at least 45% of workers use digital technologies for a minimum of half their day with close to 60% feeling it made them more productive.

This is good news: Brits are optimistic about digital in the workplace.

New technologies are continuing to re-invent what is possible in the workplace and its clear business leaders and employees alike understand the potential benefits digital technology can bring, with 67% saying it has had a positive effect.

But, much like we’ve seen in the Premier League, throwing money at a problem doesn’t mean you get results. You need to create an inclusive team culture like Leicester City has, building an identity and ensures greater understanding and buy-in for changes.

This positivity also goes beyond their personal experience. Our respondents also see the impact digital can have on the wider business, with more than half (58%) believing it could make their organisation more productive.

But confidence in leaders is lacking

The bad news? Those same employees aren’t quite so confident about digital when it comes to senior leaders – just one-quarter (24%) are happy with their board’s digital vision, while 45% are undecided and a fifth are actively concerned about their company’s digital future.

A further third (29%) believe their leadership team is struggling to push through new digital ways of working, with the same number saying their organisation is not culturally ready to adopt these technologies.

Perhaps the most frustrating finding, however, is that more than a quarter of workers claim to have suggested digital technology they thought would benefit the business, only to be ignored.

It seems the digital attitudes of UK workers are being stifled by the culture of the companies they work for. It’s time for organisations to close that gap and ensure they’re not left behind.

So how do you achieve the right digital culture?

Those survey respondents who displayed the most positive attitudes revealed four key areas that companies should focus on in order to create a the right culture for digital success.

  1. Clear digital leadership
  2. Positive attitudes towards digital
  3. Limited organisational barriers
  4. Good communications

Let’s take a look at each of those in more detail…

  1. Show clear leadership

So much of a company’s culture stems from the quality of its leadership. If senior people don’t show support for digital the lack of passion will filter through the organisation.

Demonstrating a clear digital vision from the top is essential. But it’s also important to spend time ensuring workers have the necessary knowledge and tools to go on that digital journey with you.

Two-fifths of respondents don’t feel their employers explain digital technology effectively enough, so there’s certainly room for improvement there.

  1. Be positive about digital

Around 100 billion messages are sent every day across messaging apps and SMS globally. As a world, we’ve never communicated more with others. Stunningly however, 64% of employees we surveyed weren’t consulted prior to the provision of new digital technologies.

Some 57 per cent of those consulted said they would have liked more information on how to use new digital technologies. This is a vast amount of workers when you consider how many of use at least three different communication channels in our pocket.

For businesses to tap into this, building a positive, inclusive conversation around digital change is essential to help create the right culture for success.

  1. Break down organisational barriers

Before even thinking about rolling out new digital technology, organisations need to check for any potential barriers that could halt progress in its tracks.

Obstacles could include anything from outdated processes or IT systems to negative employee attitudes. The key is to find and deal with these prior to roll-out in order to prevent any nasty surprises down the line.

  1. Communicate

More than half (57%) of workers say they would like more information on how to use digital technologies.

Far from being a negative stat, I see this as a fantastic opportunity…

People actually want to learn about this. Whether it’s through dedicated training or face-to-face interaction, companies must talk to employees about how to use new digital technology and explain how it will impact their roles.

Has your organisation embraced a digital culture, or could it do more? Let us know in the comments below.

Download the full report for lots more insight around digital culture in the workplace.

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