European workers are keen to adopt digital technologies in the workplace

Rebecca Gibson
Rebecca Gibson
By Rebecca Gibson on 08 May 2015
European workers are keen to adopt digital technologies in the workplace

Around 57% of European employees believe digital technologies – such as robots, mobile apps, data analytics and artificial intelligence – will improve their working experience, according to a new Accenture study.

Accenture Strategy’s Being Digital, Embrace the Future of Work and Your People will Embrace it with You report, which surveyed 2,500 workers and 500 business leaders in the European Union (EU), indicated that only 8% of those surveyed think digital technology will have a negative impact on their job.

In fact, 50% of EU workers believe that digital technology will improve their job prospects, particularly in Spain and Italy, while two thirds are proactively learning new digital tools and skills.

Younger and better-educated employees are more interested in using digital technologies, with 69% of those aged 18-34 expecting technology to improve their work experience, compared to 53% of those aged over 45. In addition, 56% predict technology will improve their job prospects, compared to 44% in the older age bracket.

“Digital will play to different strengths in different people,” said Céline Laurenceau, managing director, Accenture Strategy. “The millennial generation may be more tech savvy, but older workers may be better attuned to new forms of collaboration, management and the provision of training. Employers need to ensure their digital talent strategies take these differences into account as they transform their workforces.”

Recognising the enthusiasm for digital technologies, around 50% of EU business leaders have set out a digital strategy for talent development. However, many lack the confidence to deliver it and, despite 90% recognising the need to prepare their organisations of digital adoption now, 45% are concerned about the lack of employees with digital skills. Only 34% feel well prepared to change the skills and job mix of their workforce.

In addition, while 77% of business leaders expect to become digital by the end of 2018, 55% do not have a digital strategy to support their overall corporate strategy. In fact, 61% of these executives plan to wait until digital technologies have been further developed, rather than lead digital adoption in their respective industries.

Plus, while employees are largely in favour of using digital technologies, 78% are concerned they will not be able to use it effectively, 76% are worried employers will use it to track their moves and 70% fear that remote working will erode team spirit.

“Europe’s future competitiveness depends on digital skills and the disconnect between business leaders and their employees is worrying,” said Bruno Berthon, managing director, Accenture Strategy. “With employees positive about the impact of digital on their work, CEOs should begin to experiment with new digital talent strategies today as they develop longer term plans. Companies cannot afford to wait and see, but must act now before their competitors disrupt their markets with digitally savvy workforces.”

To improve efficiency and drive business growth and digital adoption, Accenture Strategy recommends that enterprises should experiment with new workforce technologies and operational practices. It also advises that enterprises shift from vertical to horizontal management to capitalise on digital, social media, increase employee autonomy and identify new talent pools.

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