UK workforce lacks employees who embrace emerging technologies: Slack report

New research from Slack which seeks to better understand working styles has found that the UK workforce lacks employees who are more likely to embrace emerging technologies such as AI.

Based on a study of over 2,000 UK workers, Slack’s Workplace Personas Report identified five overarching personality types that are present in today’s workforce. Classified by Slack as the detective, the networker, the road warrior, the problem solver, and the expressionist, each group differs when it comes to communication and working style — meaning its important for leaders to gain an understanding of how best to manage these different personalities.

According to the study, problem solvers are more likely to be early adopters of automation, being quick to find new ways to save time. As a result, problem solvers are most likely to embrace emerging technologies, such as AI.

However, problem solvers make up only 11% of UK workers meaning that globally, the UK has one of the lowest percentages of this personality type in the workforce. By comparison, this figure is less than half the number of those identifying as problem solvers in India, where they make up 23% of the workforce, and Japan, where that number sits at 20%.

By comparison, the most common personality type among UK workers is the detective, accounting for 34% of all respondents. In  this group, 91% describe themselves as organized, compared to 85% of workers on average, while 61% said they prioritize finding the right information as quickly, a figure that sits at 35% across all workers.

Workers who identify themselves as detectives also like to search for as much knowledge as possible, and then share their solutions with others, with 61% of them saying they know everything going on at the company, compared to 34% average across all workers.

Networkers made up 27% of those surveyed and are typically the most extroverted employees, valuing connection building and thriving on communication and collaboration. 

Within this group, 83% agree that you can be friends with your colleagues, while 25% said fostering connections with peers is the most important thing to them. Among the whole workforce, these figures sit at 56% and 11% of workers, respectively. Furthermore, when it comes to having friends across multiple teams and business units, 74% of networkers said that’s likely to be the case, compared to 39% of the average workforce.

The third most common personality type in  the UK workforce is the so-called road warrior, making up 21% of respondents to Slack’s study. These workers value flexibility above all else, with 75% saying it is their top priority at work, compared to 39% across all workers. In addition, 55% of road warriors said working wherever they want in a way that fits their schedule is most important, a figure that stands at an average of 23%.

Expressionists make up the smallest percentage of the UK workforce, with just 7% of those surveyed identifying as that personality type. Expressionists prefer less formal engagement, using emojis and GIFs and memes to bring an element of fun to the workplace.

“It’s clear that an array of distinct personality types have emerged in the workplace, who can operate quite differently based on their preferences, said business psychologist Lynda Shaw, discussing the findings at a roundtable event.

“Because of this, it’s important for both individuals and businesses to be open-minded to different working styles, and create a culture where each personality can thrive. People work best when they are able to express themselves freely and build genuine workplace connections,” she said. “Being more human and bringing a sense of fun to work will become increasingly valuable in a world where automation and AI become more commonplace.” 

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