Employees don’t feel empowered for the digital age

Organisations need to rethink how they empower their workforce, according to Sharon Schoenborn of Microsoft Australia

Employees don’t feel empowered for the digital age
loyees in Australia do not feel empowered to embrace the demands of the digital workplace, according to a new study by Microsoft.

While 66% of Australian respondents consider themselves to be mobile workers and spend at least 20% of their time working outside of their office, only 45% feel empowered by their organisation’s culture and management to be able to work together productively and collaboratively.

Moreover, only 32% of respondents agree their organisation is committed at a leadership level to ensure every employee is included in closing the digital skills gaps within the workforce.

The study, which involved close to 4,200 working professionals from 14 markets in Asia, sought to understand shifting employee behaviours and gaps in the workplace when it came to productivity, collaboration and flexi-work practices.

Sharon Schoenborn, Director, Office Business Group, Microsoft Australia, said organisations need to rethink how they empower their workforce with the right culture, policy, infrastructure and tools to maximise their potential.

“This means enabling collaboration from anywhere, on any device. However, it is also critical for business leaders to evaluate and implement changes to counter cultural and management challenges that are hindering employees to work seamlessly from wherever they are, which will in turn, hinder an organisation’s growth and progress in the digital age," she said.

The study also found that mobile professionals in the market are embracing flexi-work today, and organisations should look at new workplace practices, especially with the impeding influx of digital natives (born after 2000) entering the workforce for the first time.
More than half of the respondents (72%) value work-life integration today, where the boundaries of work and life have blurred, but have enabled mobile professionals to be able to collaborate and work virtually.

Schoenborn said as the nature of work changes, how employees collaborate and work together will be impacted as well.

“It is critical for business and HR leaders to seek ways to better empower individuals and remove barriers to collaborate for the digital age, especially when the Study clearly identifies gaps that can be minimised with technology,” she said.

“However, it is also important for businesses to also bridge the leadership and employee gap with more focus on people and culture.”

Workplace shifts have undeniably resulted in new ways of work, where technologies have enabled increased collaboration between individuals and teams across geographies and groups. However, the study found there were certain gaps today that hindered collaborative and productive outcomes from teams.

The top challenges included:

•    Too many face-to-face meetings taking up productive time (24%)
•    Teams are too rigid and not open to new ways of work (23%)
•    Company-wide meetings are too impersonal in communicating organisational goals (20%)
•    Teams are taking too long to respond to internal issues (20%)
•    Team members are not accommodating with flexi-work schedules (16%)

However, respondents feel that support from managers (41%), strong leadership and vision (38%) and diverse team members (31%) can help build more collaborative teams.

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