While it may be an afterthought at some companies, C-suite leaders would do well to keep an eye on workforce trends to optimize productivity and work quality.
A study commissioned by Workfront, a work-management software provider, offers insights into what many enterprise workers consider to be obstacles to getting their work done. You already know that unnecessary meetings and mountains of email are on the list, but you might gain some perspective from some of the study’s other conclusions.
Released recently, “State of Work 2018-19” was fielded by Regina Corso Consulting in June and gathered some 2,000 responses from U.S. employees who work for companies with at least 500 employees, use a computer on the job and collaborate with colleagues on projects.
Enterprise Workers Have a Love-Hate Relationship with Automation
Almost 70 percent of respondents believe that automation will give them more time to do their primary job responsibilities. And 86 percent of U.S. workers believe that the rise of automation will help them think of work in new and innovative ways. But half of the respondents also report that they know people who have already lost their jobs because of automation. Millennials are twice as likely as Baby Boomers to worry that automation will cause them to lose their jobs. Overall, what may be the most surprising data point is that the study’s findings clearly show workers to be generally optimistic about automation.
Recommendation: Your company needs an expert or a task force out front, reviewing business process in all parts of the company, helping to formulate automation strategy, and finding the best ways to test and rollout automation solutions. Be ahead of the curve enough to give some thought to retraining people whose jobs might be affected for new roles.
U.S. Workers Need Help to Foster Innovation Within Their Company
Many are frustrated by the lack of prioritization and/or structure for innovating. Almost 65 percent of the respondents reported that their companies regularly ask employees to think about new ways of doing things. And almost 60 percent said that they’re barely getting their day-to-day work done and don’t have time to think beyond today’s to-do list. Millennials are more concerned with the importance of innovation and more frustrated by their inability to free up time to focus on it than Baby Boomers. Gen X falls in the middle.
Recommendation: It’s not enough to just tell employees you want them to innovate. Innovation requires a different kind of thinking than tactical day-to-day decision-making. They may need brainstorm sessions. You might need to give them strategic problems to work on. You might need to suggest business processes that need streamlining. But more than anything else, you need to give them permission to take a specific amount of time per week or month to work on this longer-term problem.
Workers are Skeptical of the Quality of Their Colleagues’ Work
This has the potential to be divisive. U.S. workers are dubious about the quality of coworkers’ work and rate themselves as being more productive than those around them. Since the majority of respondents answered that way, you have to wonder what corrosive quality of the U.S. workplace is making people think that.
Recommendations: Workfront offers some suggestions worth passing along: 1. Ask your team members what they think of each other. Use what you learn to guide you in the following steps. 2. Provide visibility into the work that everyone is doing so that team members realize what each member is tasked with. 3. Celebrate success and accomplishment. And spread that recognition around the entire team, if possible. This requires significant effort on the part of management, but the result is pride and mutual respect.
C-Suite: The Key to Managing Multigenerational Teams
Workfront has produced the “State of Work” survey for five years. While it hasn’t previously gathered trend information across years, one of the clear trends is the difficulty of managing the several generations in the workplace, each with its own set of priorities, said Chris O’Neal, product evangelist at Workfront.
“For the first time in history, we’ve got four or five generations working alongside each other in the workforce. We’ve got baby boomers all the way up to gen z,” O’Neal said. “So, every company out there needs to come to terms with the concept of melding together a multigenerational workforce. And there are differences. In broad strokes, the way we look at it is that there are digital immigrants and digital natives. They’re all important; they all bring something to the table, whether it’s experience and leadership to adaptability and just-in-time skills.
“We believe that this multigenerational workforce needs to be led by an executive team that understands that they have different ways of looking at the world, different ways of working,” he added. “They need to be brought together by shared purpose and shared values within the organization.”