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Unily and YouGov find junior employees could hold the key to a strong comeback from COVID-19

As tech literacy becomes increasingly vital with working from home becoming the new normal, new research by Unily and YouGov reveals that junior employees and reverse mentoring schemes could hold the key to technically upskilling the entire workforce.

A junior employee offering tech advice online

Senior employees found to lack tech-literacy

A new YouGov survey commissioned by Unily found that tech-illiteracy in senior employees is slowing workforce productivity. The research found that 1 in 3 employees over the age of 40 request support for simple technology queries at least once a week, with junior employees reporting that lack of tech skills in senior staff consistently disrupts their workflow and slows productivity.

  • Over one third (37%) of junior employees aged 18-34 who believe that senior employees are not tech-savvy believe that this results in disrupted productivity 
  • 1 in 3 (34%) senior employees surveyed aged over 40, ask for help with tech-related issues at least once a week

The findings of the study indicate a need for technical upskilling in senior members of staff, a trend which has become increasingly relevant in recent weeks as remote working has become the new normal.

Reverse mentoring needed now more than ever

With the demand for technology skills at an all-time high, the research shines a light on a potential solution that could transform technical literacy across the entire workforce. Reverse mentoring is the practice of senior members of staff being trained by junior members of staff on areas such as social media and technology upskilling.

The survey revealed that while 79% of employees surveyed do not have a reverse mentoring scheme in their workplace, 53% of those without a scheme think their workplace should offer one. The value of reverse mentoring and continued learning has been highlighted by leaders like Bill Gates as a key tool for business success.

  • 85% of employees wish for an increase in the number of open learning opportunities available, yet only 21% report that their employer has a mentorship scheme in place
  • More than 7 in 10 (72%) of senior employees aged 41+ believe they actively learn/could actively learn from more junior members of staff, which helps them with their own work
  • Over half of employees surveyed (58%) say being tech literate has personally helped them become more noticed in the workplace  

Changing landscapes: junior employees shine

With more generations co-existing the workforce eco-system than ever before, we enter unknown territory, with as many challenges as opportunities ahead. As technical skills gain premium and remote working accelerates, enterprises will be turning to their junior employees for support. This begs the question: are junior employees bringing as much value to the table as their senior counterparts, and how will that impact traditional hierarchical structures?

The survey also revealed that 63% of junior employees believe hierarchical structures within the workplace create unnecessary barriers between staff.

Thinking about the value junior employees are bringing to their businesses throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Unily Chief Commercial Officer Jo Skilton says, “Now, more than ever, senior business leaders are looking to their more tech-savvy junior members of staff to help provide advice, solutions, and tools helpful for employees to communicate with each other.”

Perhaps it’s time for forward-thinking enterprises to review the skills they value and consider how new working models may increase efficiency and innovation?

Contact us if you'd like to know more about how a digital workplace can improve your digital transformation.

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