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Unisys survey finds large digital workplace divide - frustrated workers ready to quit

Companies not investing in new technologies have a lot of unhappy workers

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Unisys says that its first multi-national survey of more than 12,000 workers found that companies lagging in technology report levels of frustration among staff and turnovers far higher compared with companies considered technology leaders.

The survey asked workers in 12 countries: US, UK, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, Germany, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, and Singapore. There were some cultural differences in some of the answers but overall there was a big gap in attitudes by workers at companies they consider technology leaders versus laggards -- with outdated technologies.

"It's a new digital workplace divide and the technology laggards are taking a big risk because this survey shows that their workforce is frustrated and many are thinking of quitting," said Mickey Davis, Global VP of Managed Workplace Services at Unisys.

Workers at companies using outdated technologies are 750 percent more likely to report high levels of frustration in getting their work done and 450 percent more are thinking about quitting their job. It takes an average of nine months to replace an employee.

"Companies that are trying to stretch their investments in technology and delay upgrading are taking a risk of a larger cost later in hiring people based on short-term savings today," said Davis.

Claire Brown, Professor of Economics and Director of the Center for Work, Technology and Society at University of California at Berkeley, said, "It's not enough to give workers new gadgets if you also don't provide the training, support and engagement they need. American workers don't want shiny gadgets. They get excited about technologies that can help them do their work. And they become very frustrated when they aren't given the tools they need."

Brown's recent book "Buddhist Economics: An enlightened approach to the dismal science" advocates for a different approach to building a sustainable economy that rewards social and community gains. She believes that new technologies will greatly improve worker productivity and we will be able to work a shorter week.

However, there is a technology productivity paradox in that productivity gains seem to be missing from the economic data despite decades of IT investments.

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Brown explains this paradox. "We aren't very good at measuring productivity or the increase in its quality. We can measure costs very well but when we look for productivity gains we can't find them in the data."

The Unisys surveys show that technology investments and trainings are appreciated by workers and they feel more motivated, engaged and far less frustrated on the job. This high level of employee morale represents a significant gain for the company -- which comes in addition to the potential productivity benefits from deploying new technologies such as AI and the Internet of Things.

Unisys will release the results of the other country surveys over a two-week period because of the FIFA World Cup. The results will show some small cultural differences but have much common ground.

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