How much do we depend on co-workers for tech help at work?
One of the many benefits of working in an office is that employees can support and learn from one another. Having employees from different generations provides room for growth for all parties involved. However, generational gaps can sometimes lead to inconveniences that usually fall on younger employees.
We recently surveyed over 1,000 employed Americans to explore different generations' views on new technology in the workplace. Our study also examined how younger generations feel about using their work time to help co-workers and how much these actions cost the company. Read on to learn more about tech support in the workplace and how employers can improve it.
Before asking, Google it
A simple Google search can solve many software malfunctions and computer issues. However, some co-workers usually skip this step and seek help from younger colleagues instead. As a result, these employees frequently have to halt their work and even sacrifice their break time to provide technical assistance outside the scope of their job description.
Our modern remote-first world has posed new issues for American workers, especially when they lack tech skills. For example, we learned that 1 in 5 American employees didn’t know how to use Zoom before getting hired. It’s often up to younger employees to ensure older colleagues are up-to-date with new technology in the workplace, including the remote workplace!
Who gets to help me?
Almost half of working Americans said they ask co-workers for tech help at least once per day. Gen Xers and baby boomers were the most likely to do so. The main pain points are hardware issues, software malfunctions, and trouble with office tools like printers and scanners.
In the era of mass communication, companies and organizations rely heavily on social media engagement. Social media outlets and their proper use have become another area where younger generations need to provide support. This problem often results in inefficiency in the workplace as people reported spending over 5 hours per week on social media technical issues.
Speaking of inefficiency, the survey also showed that Gen Z spends an average of 8 hours per week helping older co-workers look for computer files. Employers waste $11,136 a year on employees looking for documents at this rate. Americans also reported that co-workers aged 42+ delay 1 in 4 meetings at least once per day because they need help with tech issues.
American workers also shared that they frequently need help with other relatively novel tech advancements, like link sharing and link building. According to our calculations, employees sending and making links shareable for other employees waste over 250 hours and $7,500 per year.
Lying to get the job
To slightly embellish your work experience to stand out is one thing, but it’s a whole other thing to flat-out lie about your skills. According to the survey, this happens quite often in the American workforce.
We discovered that 86% of American employees have lied about tech skills before being hired. The abilities they most often fibbed about were database management, graphic design, and accounting software. Relatively new workplace video meeting apps like Zoom also fell under this category. Gen X and baby boomers were the most likely to have lied about their Zoom skills, with 27% of baby boomers saying they knew how to share their screen during a Zoom meeting when they really didn’t.
Perhaps people interviewing for jobs lie about their skills because they’re sure somebody will help them once they’re on the job. We found that two-thirds of Americans believe co-workers should be responsible for providing older colleagues with some training on new technologies. While baby boomers were the most likely to agree with this, millennials were the least likely.
One of the issues with this is that many of these technologies aren’t even that new, and younger employees often find themselves helping their co-workers with tasks as simple as drafting an email: 24% of baby boomers lied about knowing how to write an email properly.
Welcoming new technology
Technology has provided us with invaluable workplace assets that save time and money. However, it’s not always easy for people to adapt to these changes. Our survey showed that older generations find new technology frustrating and that many resist learning new technology due to a lack of time and proper training.
American workers have expressed frustration about how their workplaces roll out new technology. Many employees are often left to figure it out without adequate support, training, and time. Some people even thought their employers failed to create a positive learning environment. Employees have expressed that they wish their employers would provide more resources to tackle these issues.
Most people wanted their employers to provide weekly training and multiple training options for different needs. They also desired a more hands-on approach to Q&A sessions so that employees would have the opportunity to voice concerns to those that could help. More than a third of employees wished their bosses would hire professional trainers, likely because they felt it shouldn’t be up to them to train their co-workers.
Though we have a lot to thank technology for, many people dread having to teach programs and tools to their co-workers at the office. Yet, improper training and a lack of tools and support put people in a tough spot. Do they focus on their responsibilities or neglect their work to help a co-worker? Either choice might hurt the company and create delays.
Gen Zers and millennials are primarily the default tech professionals in their office, even if it’s outside their job description. By incorporating external help, providing training sessions, and slowing the pace of introducing new technology, employers could create a more efficient and inclusive environment for everybody at the workplace.
For this campaign, we surveyed 1,012 employed Americans whose work required the use of a computer daily. Among them, 56% were men, and 44% were women. Generations breakdowns were as follows:
- Generation Z: 25%
- Millennials: 45%
- Generation X: 15%
- Baby boomers: 15%
For short, open-ended questions, outliers were removed. To help ensure that all respondents took our survey seriously, they were required to identify and correctly answer an attention-check question. Survey data has certain limitations related to self-reporting. The margin of error is plus or minus 3% with a 95% confidence interval.
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