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Almost half of UK employees associate new technology with business growth

However, Brits are more sceptical about technology having a profound impact on their job functions compared with other European nations

Brits are much more positive about the impact of new technologies on job creation and business growth compared to employees based in Belgium, Germany, France or the Netherlands.

This is according to a large-scale survey conducted by payroll and HR services provider SD Worx in collaboration with the Antwerp Management School. 44.7% of Brits have seen the number of jobs rise thanks to tech innovation, compared to 44.4% of the French, 38.4% of the Dutch, 35.6% of the Belgian and 25.7% of the German workers. The data looks at organisations in the past three years.

At the same time, Brits are more likely to say new technologies won’t change their day-to-day job in the future, compared with other European nations. A quarter (25.9%) of British workers say they don’t believe the way they do their jobs will change due to technology, with 24.4% of the French, 20.2% of the German, 12.4% of the Dutch and only 3% of the Belgian workers echoing the sentiment.

This finding is in line with the conclusion that technology in the workplace usually helps manage routine tasks", says Professor Ans De Vos, who works at Antwerp Management School on Next Generation Work: Creating Sustainable Careers.

“This often frees up more time for workers to focus on value-adding elements of the job. Our study shows that many employees see things this way too. This is directly opposed to the doom and gloom you often read about when it comes to the impact of technology in the workplace. But what is important is that employers also point out the opportunities for career advancement to their employees."

Businesses have the opportunity to digitise and improve their processes using new technology", says Brenda Morris, Chief Operating Officer at SD Worx. “However, it’s important to get the buy-in from staff and take them on the technology implementation journey for the digital transformation projects to work. The good news is that the fear that jobs will be lost as a result of new technology or that employees will struggle to adopt new technology appears to be unfounded.”

This study shows that new technology reduces the stress levels for many employees, enabling them to perform their tasks remotely and faster, therefore improving productivity. It’s good to see that workers increasingly see new technology as a stepping stone to more interesting roles, career growth and a better work-life balance. It seems that we have finally been able to dispel an age-old myth that technology will eliminate jobs."

At least a quarter of those surveyed across all countries believe that the new technology introduced by their employers had a positive impact on their career advancement within the company. The figure in the UK is 30.7%, with France and the Netherlands showing more positively about the prospect at 31.5% and 32.3%, accordingly. Only 25.9% of the German workforce believed this to be true. Belgium is an outlier with as many as 47% of employees seeing new technology as an opportunity to advance to more senior roles. Only a minority (ranging from 15.5% in Belgium to 7.6% in the Netherlands) see new technologies as restricting their mobility within the company.

Most respondents did not report any additional stress in the workplace as a result of new technologies. In fact, 23.4% of Belgian employees reported that it has alleviated their job-related anxiety. The picture in the Netherlands was similar, with more than 1 in 5 employees agreeing, while the figures for Germany (19.2%), the UK (16.4%) and France (16.3%) were somewhat slightly lower. For most countries, the introduction of new technology was found to have a neutral effect on workplace stress by around 60% of employees. Only in Belgium workplace innovations were found to generate additional stress by 1 in 3 employees, while only 14.6% of UK staff have reported increased anxiety levels linked to new tech at work.