Employees Expect Things Companies Are Likely Unprepared to Deliver, Says Study

As the nature of work and the workplace evolves, both leaders and employees need to be engaged in bringing about a transformation that is productive, healthy and inclusive.

A new eBook titled, “State of (un)readiness,” which sets out to investigate a series of ideas from a bottom-up survey of students and professionals from Generations X, Y, and Z – not from the employer’s perspective, says that even while working professionals say their employer’s digital capabilities are important, less than half believe their current employer’s capabilities rank highly.

The eBook was released by INSEAD Emerging Markets Institute, Universum, The HEAD Foundation and the MIT Leadership Centre.

A technology that is likely to revolutionize the workplace of students and working professionals in the coming decade is virtual reality, according to a survey conducted for the eBook. All generations signal they are ready (and eager) for VR applications at work.

“Technological innovations are reshaping just about everything in our world today and the workplace is no exception. Cloud-based collaboration tools, workplace messaging platforms, wearable technologies, virtual reality, and so on, have changed the meaning of going to work,” said Henrik Bresman, Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior; Academic Director, INSEAD Global Leadership Centre; Senior Advisor, The HEAD Foundation.

He continued, “More and more, employees expect work applications to function as effortlessly and effectively as the applications they use in their personal lives, and even while working professionals say their employer’s digital capabilities are important, our collaborative research shows that less than half believe their current employer’s capabilities rank highly.”

Flexible working

Working professionals are also ready for a flex-working revolution, if only employers were willing to concede it.  The eBook notes that it’s important for employers to understand what ‘flexible’ means for key members of their workforce.

“Employees and their managers now expect more flexibility of time and venue. Constant connectivity leading to real time information and feedback is the norm, as is the management of virtual teams across increasingly globalized organizations,” said Vinika D. Rao, Executive Director of INSEAD Emerging Markets Institute.

“Given the rapid pace of change in workplace technology – from cloud-based collaboration tools and workplace messaging platforms to newer technologies like wearables – it’s clear the nature of work in 10 years will be vastly different from what we experience today.”

Training and development

When it comes to training and development, employees – regardless of age – prefer in-person training and development to online options, but they are willing to sign up for online options when they’re offered, according to the eBook.

These insights are based on an annual survey of over 18,000 students and professionals worldwide – from Gen Xers who’ve been in the workplace for two decades, to Gen Z students.

The research sheds light on preferred workstyles, Leadership qualities, hopes and fears about future careers, and the technologies with the highest potential for workplace innovation.

Universum’s COO, Karl-Johan Hasselström, added: “Across all generations more and more employees expect work applications to function as effortlessly and effectively as the applications they use in their personal lives. To live up to this, companies are adopting new, specialized technologies at breakneck speed, leading to sizable integration issues.

“The problem is particularly bad for workforce-facing applications such as project management, messaging tools, time management, calendaring, many of which don’t speak to one another and share information.

“For employers, it’s critical to address these issues early to avoid something that’s referred to as “path dependency” — when organizations must continue with a particular technology or practice, even when it’s not ideal, because earlier decisions limit present choices.” 

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