From managing their time, to learning new skills, and communicating ideas, your digital workers may be more resilient than you imagined.

The annual Adobe State of Work report reveals four themes for employers looking to lead and drive a digital and distributed workforce. The key findings are summarised below. 

Discovery #1: Digital workers are resilient

Per the research, workers’ confidence saw an uptick in key areas of work: managing time, learning new skills, and communicating ideas. Especially interesting is that digital workers gained capacity in two of the most difficult aspects of work: collaborating with colleagues across geographies, which rose by four points, and dealing with work-related conflict and hard conversations, which rose by five points.

Robyn Tombacher, Global Head of Workforce Management, WPP says being forced to accelerate the use of digital collaboration tools has been a “gift” for her company. “Our creativity isn’t limited because we don’t sit next to each other." 

Discovery #2: Digital workers are even more engaged

Despite — or perhaps because of — this past year’s events, the number of employees who reported feeling invested in their jobs grew from 79% to 81%. During this same period, the number who said doing their best work was more important than pay jumped by nearly 10 percentage points.

While undoubtedly good news for employers, these findings come with a word of warning: The number of those feeling unappreciated rose by eight points, and in both Adobe's Q1 and Q4 studies, feeling unappreciated was the top barrier to employees feeling invested in their work.

Discovery #3: Digital workers have high standards

Digital employees know what good customer experience feels like, and they bring those expectations to work. So, when technology makes their jobs harder or limits their success, they are willing to walk away. In fact, 49% of respondents said they will quit a job if the technology is out of date or hard to use.

These numbers represent more than a desire to have access to the latest and greatest, says Elizabeth Volini, Executive Director, JLL Technologies. By failing to invest in the right tools, companies are sending the signal that they “aren’t very concerned with the quality of work or the people doing the work,” she says.

Discovery #4: Generations are being impacted differently

Remote workers are not all the same, and they are responding differently to the changes and challenges that have emerged over the past year. This is particularly true when comparing Millennials (aged 25 to 40), and Gen Xers (aged 41 to 56). According to the data, Gen Xers showed major gains in confidence around communication, including conflict resolution and their ability to build and reinforce trust in a new environment. Millennials, meanwhile, appear to be adapting at a slower pace, particularly with regard to trust. On that issue, millennials reported a 3-point drop compared to the Gen Xers’ 4-point rise.

“We tend to assume that because younger workers grew up as ‘digital natives,’ they’re very comfortable with a technology-enabled workplace and don’t need the extra support,” says Laura Butler, SVP of People & Culture, Workfront.

“But younger workers haven’t had the opportunity to build collective resilience through a national catastrophe, are still growing their professional networks, and haven’t logged as many years absorbing all the nuances of corporate culture.” Add to this the fact that many have young children at home, and it is easy to see why Millennials face an uphill climb when it comes to these topics.

Photo / 123RF

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