Nearly Half of UK and US Workers Will Quit Their Job if Their Workplace Technology Is Not up to Scratch: Report Finds

New study highlights the impact of COVID-19 on the UK and US digital workforces — workforces that are far more engaged and even less tolerant than before the pandemic

Workfront’s 7th Annual State of Work report has revealed that despite economic uncertainty and a fiercely competitive job market, 49% of the US and UK workforce would leave their job due to frustrations with technology, a figure that has risen from 15% in the US and 33% in the UK since before the pandemic. Workfront, an Adobe Company, carried out two surveys of 1,000 UK and US respondents. The first was carried out in February 2020, and the second was nine months later during November and December 2020, providing a unique window into the true impact of the pandemic on each country’s digital workforces.

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The report found that:

  • While UK employees feel significantly more invested in their current job than before the pandemic—an increase of 16 points, from 56% to 81%—they have become more intolerant of inadequate or inefficient technology that prevents them from doing their best work and are prepared to take action.
  • US workers were already highly invested in their jobs pre-pandemic (79%) and we saw this increase by two percentage points (to 81%) over the eight months between the two surveys. The day-to-day impact of outdated or irrelevant technology on the workforce in both countries results in people feeling:
    • less productive (UK 45% / US 43%)
    • and unable to take on new tasks (UK 36% / US 38%)
  • In February 2020 one-in-five (21%) UK workers said they have quit a job because workplace technology made their roles more difficult, and this rose to nearly a third (32%) by the end of the year—implying that workers have left secure jobs to escape the challenges of poor technology.
  • By contrast, in the US, almost a quarter (22%) of workers had already quit a job because workplace tech made their jobs harder pre-pandemic. Today, nearly a third of workers (32%) say they have said goodbye to an employer whose tech was a barrier to their ability to do good work. Workers in both the US and UK have become increasingly intolerant of poor technology, and are actively leaving their jobs because of it.
  • Continuing this theme, the number of people who turned down a job in the UK because the technology was out of date or hard to use rose by 18 percentage points to 38%, while the number of digital workers who reported applying for a job because they heard a company’s employees use great technology increased by 16% to 48%, compared with pre-pandemic data. In the US, the number of people who report turning down a job because the tech was out of date, or hard to use rose, 12 percentage points to 35%.

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What’s also telling in the report is that the generational digital divide is narrowing when it comes to technological demands, in both the UK and US. Now, a greater demand for the newest and best technology is being felt across all age groups:

  • In the UK, pre-pandemic, just under a quarter (24%) of Gen X respondents would consider leaving a role because of outdated technology, but the latest data shows almost half (48%) would now look for a new position. Similarly, the same response from Millennials grew from 37% to exactly half (50%).
  • And this is reflected in the US. In the second survey, it was revealed that the number of Gen Xers who would leave a job if technology was out of date rose by 13 percentage points to 49%. When it comes to Millennials, the figure rose by 7 percentage points to 48%. In addition,  34% of Gen Xers said they have rejected a job offer because of poor technology, which is a higher rate than their Millennial counterparts, of which 35% said they had done so.

“Despite a global pandemic, our very human need to find meaning in our work is revealed in this data. With so many of us now used to working completely remotely, away from the team dynamic, it’s critically important for our productivity, and mental health, that the technology we are using is up-to-scratch and keeps us connected with the rest of our team. Frustrating technology, that wastes time, isn’t fit for purpose and is archaic, is no longer acceptable in the new world of work.” Alex Shootman, VP and GM, Workfront, an Adobe company.

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