Microsoft Germany has released new research in conjunction with YouGov which shows that cultural changes in a company are key for the successful adoption of technology, and the transformation it brings with it.
In Germany, the study shows that 60 percent of German employees believe that digital technologies improve the competitiveness of their organization, while providing opportunities for personal development, making work more fun, and enabling them to achieve a better work-life balance. At the same time, however, one in two employees are afraid of changing roles, and have concerns about their job security.
Microsoft Germany’s research follows a recent Europe-wide study which shows that for transformation to be successful, companies must have both a strong overall culture (which encourages positivity, creativity and growth), in addition to a strong digital culture (an environment which fosters the adoption and use of technology).
Despite this, in Germany, the study shows that only one in five employers consistently push ahead with cultural change, and only one in ten employees is involved in the transformation process.
The research by Microsoft Germany, which is available now, delves into concrete recommendations for companies, so that they can create the ideal cultural environment to get the most out of digital transformation.
Addressing fears, encouraging cooperation, and reaping the benefits
“Digitization, which should enable all progress, must also include all people. It is important to use the positive mood of the employees, to actively counteract fears and to point out future opportunities for all. This is best achieved in a culture of trust in which employees are actively involved in the transformation process, “says Sabine Bendiek, CEO of Microsoft Germany.
This ideal cultural environment, however, appears to be lacking in Germany. Only one in ten employees (11 percent) experience the development of the digital transformation strategy as a collaborative process involving employees and managers. If employees aren’t involved in these changes, their fear and doubts are understandable outcomes.
Uncertainty in the workforce often arises when employees feel they can’t cope with new demands. A digital culture that takes fears seriously and promotes life-long learning can counter this.
According to the survey, 67 percent of respondents strongly welcome opportunities for continuous professional development – but companies and authorities are not currently providing enough support for this. Only one in two employers regularly provide training or encourage employees to experiment with new technologies.
Clear communication and actionable decisions can also help employees confidently address the digital future, but despite this, 38 percent of employees believe that their organization has no discernible strategy for digital transformation. In addition, 37 percent believe that IT decision-makers don’t understand the needs of employees and customers.
This contrasts with other findings which show that advantages of new technologies are generally appreciated: 64 percent see the potential of digital tools for condensing information; 58 percent find that artificial intelligence or the cloud improve collaboration; 57 percent already like to use new, technology-based forms of cooperation.
Interestingly, similar research in the UK shows that nearly two in three business leaders (61 percent) believe that attempts to improve work practices by introducing new technology, is creating anxiety amongst employees.
Despite the clear levels of anxiety that technological change brings to the workplace however, the UK study also shows that only 23 percent of leaders are investing in cultural change programmes to alleviate fears and ensure that technology is used to its full potential.
Cultural change, then, is clearly a crucial factor that all business leaders across Europe must consider if they wish to evolve, grow, and remain competitive.
Making cultural change a top priority
“German companies and institutions have recognized the importance of digital transformation, but they are currently facing more technical, rather than cultural challenges. The success of digital transformation is always a question of the right culture, “says Bendiek.
Only one in five respondents in the research reported on a program for cultural change in their organization. In addition, traditional corporate culture often prevents employees from exhausting all possibilities of digital transformation. For example, only one in three organizations allow their employees to work remotely, despite the fact that this is desired by almost 50 percent of all employees.
With its new study, Microsoft Germany shows how companies can tackle the necessary cultural changes needed to make the best use of technology, while creating a more positive workplace, encouraging growth, and increasing talent retention.
In addition to the survey results, the whitepaper also includes the perspectives of various change experts, psychologists and top managers from a wide variety of industries.
“Businesses should not ignore digital transformation. You have to make the transition from the executive level and not delegate everything to the IT department. After all, change requires entrepreneurial leadership and an overarching focus, “says Andreas Schierenbeck, CEO of thyssenkrupp Elevator.
Digitization in Germany, in fact, is rarely a matter for leaders: according to the YouGov survey, only one in four employees experience the management or the executive board as the driving force behind the transformation.
Microsoft Germany’s activities and research are driven by its Digitalisierung für alle initiative which aims to bring the benefits of technology to all, ensuring that everyone benefits from the opportunities that a digital society offers.
For more information on the importance of culture for a company’s transformation journey, please visit our Digital Culture hub.