Corporate executives have been investing heavily in technology advances such as automation, robotics and AI to reinvent how work is done, but miss major opportunities to get the most out of their investments because of one key critical factor – waning employee engagement, a new study has found. 

According to a national survey of U.S. workers by Eagle Hill Consulting, just 23% say technology changes have had a positive impact on their organization. Only 19% say their company invests in the right technologies to help employees do their job.

Also, more than two-thirds of workers say they need more skills to adapt to advancing technology, but only 22% report that their company gives them the right level of support to understand and benefit from new technology solutions.

“COVID-19 has triggered a surge in technology investments, with some estimates as high $15 billion per week during the first wave of the pandemic. But, companies won't realize the full potential of their investments if they fail to engage their workforce from selection to deployment of new technologies," said Melissa Jezior, Eagle Hill Consulting president and CEO.

“Technology advancements can be a game-changer in terms of strengthening operational capabilities and improving the customer experience. But technology does not stand alone – employees play a critical role in every stage.

“Yet, our research finds that companies aren't asking their employees critical questions before new technologies are deployed. And they are not training employees to utilize new technologies. Technology continues to be deployed at a rapid pace, but it's problematic that engaging and upskilling the workforce is lagging.”

There are simple but important actions companies can take to get the most from technology investments, Eagle Hill said. These include:

  • Understand the real problem at hand. A new technology will not override outdated business processes, broken cultures or skills gaps.
  • Test the hypothesis and gain vital insights in the process. Resist the urge to conduct root cause analysis of a business challenge in isolation of the employees doing the work every day.
  • Understand the human ROI. The best technology solutions get the most out of humans.

The Eagle Hill Consulting "Technology in Workplace Survey 2020" was conducted by Ipsos. The survey polled 1,003 respondents on aspects of the impact of technology such as artificial intelligence, automation and robotics on their current and future work environment.

Download the research here.  

Paul Barker