Digital Success Begins With a Cultural Change: HR challenges of the ever-changing working environment


Digital technologies have dramatically impacted the culture around work and working: Today’s workers have a new focus on purpose, mission and work-life integration.

Boglárka Szentpétery, Microsoft’s HR director.

Executives can give their company a competitive advantage and attract top talents by having a strong workplace culture already in place that supports digital implementation. Many studies show that highly engaged companies can hire more easily, deliver stronger customer service, have the lowest voluntary turnover rates and are more profitable over the long run.

Culture is just as important as strategy when it comes to creating a productive, successful enterprise. If organizations do not actively work to create a culture that supports their broader goals, strategy or vision, they leave their employees without any way to execute on those goals. As an innovator itself, Microsoft is and has always been keen to research the relationship between IT and corporate efficiency and we recently asked 20,000 employees from 21 countries, including Hungarian workers, how they utilize digital technologies and culture and how these aspects affect their performance.

Results show that it is important that employees have the opportunity and the incentive to use new solutions, the widest possible access to tools and IT solutions, and that technical progress, innovation and adaptation is a priority at a given company.

“By nurturing an environment where impromptu conversations can happen, it goes along with a notable impact on employee productivity,” highlights Microsoft international client, TalkTalk Media.  But our research shows another highly important aspect of digitalization: Cultural change. In order to increase efficiency and productivity, it is not enough to replace the tools and transform workflows, there is also a need for an intermediate step: Corporate culture needs to be adapted in accordance with the changing hardware and software environment.

According to our study, only 16% of European employees work in a firm with a strong corporate culture, and about the same amount of people (17.1%) feel that a digital culture is present at the workplace. As far as Hungary is concerned, 13.1% of the people working in advanced digital culture regard their work as highly innovative, which is only slightly lower than the 16.9% European average. Also, 16.2% of Hungarian workers experience an advanced corporate culture at their workplace and 17.8% work in a strong digital culture, roughly the same as the average in other parts of Europe. Nevertheless, as of today only 11.4% of European employees feel very productive in their work, meaning the challenge employers are facing is huge.

The research also revealed that productivity, innovation and empowerment are key features when it comes to successful digitalization. In strong digital working cultures, 4% of the employees consider themselves more productive, and a whopping 20% more efficient. The difference is even more significant when it comes to innovation: The number of employees, who feel innovative, doubles from 15 to 30% versus those in a weak digital culture, while the number of non-innovators is reduced to only 3%. On top of this, four times as many employees feel empowered in a strong digital culture than in a weak one, which means they are able to do their jobs to the very best of their ability.

The numbers clearly show that digital transformation is happening and it’s not a question of “why?” anymore, but rather how technology enables growth and empowers employees. Innovation, however, never happens by chance. In an era of the digital workforce, an enterprise’s culture must expand to include its digital workplace practices. Culture, engagement, and employee retention have emerged as top challenges for business leaders.


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