SmartRecruiters Blog

When it Comes to New Tech, Study Finds Employees Feel Like An Afterthought – Let’s Change That!

Learn why 47 percent of employees claim to be shut out of tech adoption, and how companies can do better – including employee personality types and motivations.

Employees want the best tools for their jobs, but when companies adopt new tech they often feel out of the loop, and ‘put upon’. How many of you have received an email like ‘we are changing systems, please complete these 10 easy steps…’ and then just ignored it forever? You aren’t alone! …Or maybe you were the one who sent that email, and wondered ‘why is everyone complaining and dragging their feet?!’ Most of us have been there as well. The simple fact is, that getting buy-in for new tech is hard, especially when people don’t understand why.

In a recent survey, PwC found that while 90 percent of managers report the introduction of new technology is made with the workers’ needs in mind, only 53 percent of the employees agreed, and 73 percent of those employees say they know of systems that would help them turn out higher quality work than the ones they use now… uh oh.

Those numbers are bleak, especially when one takes into account that this isn’t a niche problem. The survey included 12,000 workers spanning c-suite to administrative roles, from eight countries, and through a wide range of industries including consumer markets, health industries, financial services, manufacturing, and technology and media.

It’s clear then that tech adoption is a widespread problem, and a pain point on both sides of the equation – the departments pushing digitization and the workers being bowled over by it. So, here are some things to consider before driving innovation!

What motivates employees? When it comes to motivations there are three distinct employee personality types with their own distinct set of motivations. Curiosity-driven, status-driven, and rewards-driven.

    • Curiosity-driven: 34 percent of employees are motivated by curiosity, efficiency, and teamwork. This group is the most open to new tech adoptions and will invest up to 20 hours of training per month. These are the folks who champion tech to the rest of the company!
    • Status-driven: 37 percent of employees are motivated by advancement in their careers, recognition, and status. They likely already feel overwhelmed by all the different tech being introduced into their working lives, and would prefer streamlined solutions. Don’t let the grumbling fool you, this segment will still spend around 17 hours on tech training every month.
  • Rewards-driven: 29 percent of employees are motivated by individual achievement within a predictable environment. This group likes a routine and cares about the well being of their coworkers. They are the hardest to evangelize as they don’t prize efficiency or recognition as highly as the first two segments.

How much time are they willing to invest? Turns out, most employees are willing to invest upwards of two days per month in upskilling, but only 50 percent are satisfied with the available resources, and 46 percent say their company doesn’t value tech-savvy workers. This data signifies an opportunity for leaders to define avenues for their teams to learn, and be rewarded for their learning. Sooner, rather than later, would be ideal as The World Economic Forum projects that by 2022, 54 percent of employees will need a substantial amount of training, with 35 percent of those in need, requiring at least six months of instruction.

Does the human touch still matter? Yes, when asked employees would still prefer, by in large, to have face to face interactions when it comes to talking with colleagues, providing feedback, getting help with difficult questions, and receiving HR assistance.

… but the digital assist still has its place. Some processes can be both human and digital. For example, initial tech evangelization can happen through in-person meetings, and product demos while extended training on features and nudge reminders can happen digitally over slack or via the product directly.

Things employees would prefer to do via tech: schedule vacation time, update personal info, get IT help, review benefits, enroll in benefits, and look for new employment.

Confer with mixed-level tech committees: Consider conferring with “informal leaders”, people who may not hold a leadership title per se, but who can give you an idea of what the company looks like on the ground level. Don’t discount the value of this view!


At the end of the day, employees want to feel like the leadership is driving tech-innovation to enable workers, not replace them. When asked if the rise of AI would make the world a better place, 88 percent of the C-suite respondents said yes, while only 48 percent of the staff surveyed agreed. This disconnect is emblematic of why the tech adoption can be so tricky; workers fear that digitization isn’t to support them, but to edge them out. The best thing any organization can do to encourage innovation is to involve employees in the decision, and illustrate the value proposition clearly!

Kaya Payseno