3 Ways To Fight Back Against Hyperconnectivity Overload

Susan Galer

Despite the hoopla about always-on, social connectivity, too many workers are falling victim to collaborative overload. Results from a global survey of over 4,000 executives and employees found most companies lack the management skills, organizational culture, and technology to make collaboration pay off at scale.

The study, conducted by Oxford Economics and sponsored by SAP SuccessFactors, found a direct correlation between an elite group of respondents from high-performing companies – called Digital Winners − and organizational practices and results. Oxford Economics also incorporated the research data into a benchmarking survey companies can use to compare their performance with Digital Winners. These companies are distinguished by how they manage three aspects of business: leadership, diversity, and technology.

Collaboration starts at the top

Employees of Digital Winners said management was more proficient in facilitating collaboration inside the organization (62%, vs. 47% of others). What’s more, the most satisfied workers from this survey rated their organization’s collaboration capabilities higher, saying leaders at their organizations were more responsive to requests on meaningful decisions, providing more feedback, and discouraging complexity and bureaucracy, and were better at fostering internal partnerships.

Source: Oxford Economics Leaders 2020 study 2016. The next-generation executive: Getting collaboration right. Image via SAP.

Looking ahead, just 24% of executives and 20% of employees said their organization considered collaboration a top capability for a manager of the future. Additionally, they rated related behaviors low, including openness to new ideas from others and approachability. While Digital Winners already report stronger collaboration skills among management compared to peers, they were also more likely to be actively building this skill set among managers over the next three years (74% vs. 53% of others).

Transparency, diversity build collaborative culture

Executives from Digital Winners were more likely to say decisions were transparent to those affected by them (58%) and distributed across the organization (62%), and employees at these companies tended to agree.

Diversity also looms large in creating a collaborative culture. This goes beyond scorekeeping employee demographics. Organizations have to foster respect and communication allowing people to work well together. Surveyed Digital Winners were likelier to report increases in diversity among the general workforce and mid-level leadership – and were more likely to report a positive impact on both culture (66%, vs. 47% of others) and financial performance (37% vs. 29%).

Using technology effectively

Despite the proliferation of social networking and other digital tools, most companies lack the technology to foster effective collaboration. This may be because they tend to prioritize process improvement, innovation, data analytics, and the customer experience over initiatives like collaboration, real-time decision-making, and communication. However, Digital Winners were more likely to use collaboration platforms to determine employee wants and needs (60% vs. 40% of others).

Source: Oxford Economics Leaders 2020 study 2016. The next-generation executive: Getting collaboration right. Image via SAP.

The collaborative way forward

This study shows that effective collaboration isn’t a guaranteed outcome of the hyperconnected workplace. Collaboration has to be woven into processes, workflows, and the organizational culture. Leadership has to make partnerships and teamwork important corporate values, empowering mid-management appropriately. Workers need not only the technology, but the ability to take full advantage of it for information sharing and innovation. Companies have to figure out how to manage diverse, global workforces so they can bring fresh perspectives to hard problems for better overall market performance.

Get more insights from the Leaders 2020 study by Oxford Economics and SAP.

Susan Galer

About Susan Galer

Susan Galer is the Communications Director, SAP News Services.