If It Ain’t Broke… Challenging Legacy Thinking

A multi-generational workforce poses its own cultural challenges, especially in an environment of Industry 4.0 transformation. This is particularly true in manufacturing which has one of the highest percentages of workers aged 50+ in the UK economy. Alongside retail, health and education, these industries account for approximately half of all 50+ workers in the UK.

A cause of anxiety for many in this demographic is that digitisation will render human input worthless, and mass redundancies will follow. So will that really happen? In truth, it’s unlikely.

A recent study concluded that businesses that move quickly to adopt the use of robots tend to increase the number of employees, while industry job losses are more concentrated in firms that make this change more slowly.

The greater risk, in our eyes, is the concept of legacy thinking and the culture that goes with it; one that is resistant to change and the collective mentality that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

In an environment that has seen technology play a huge part in our lives – particularly in the past year, and with no chance of progress slowing down any time soon, this legacy thinking can lead to some serious problems at some point down the line.

Business Culture – Make or Break

At Culture Consultancy, we’ve witnessed how this legacy thinking can manifest itself: resistance to change, lack of motivation, reduced productivity, and negative influence on the team. All of these behaviours can cause problems if the leadership team is unable to recognise these as cultural issues, support people through the change, and turn team members into innovation agents.

Changes to business culture requires work to adjust the mindset of the workforce at every level. The key thing to remember is to lead this change with empathy and ensure everyone is supported. Employees who feel supported and listened to will be more engaged and open to change, which is crucial when you want to future-proof your business and retain your workforce.

Realising Future Potential

So, while the fear that greater automation meaning fewer people has been proven unfounded, the legacy thinking that poses a greater risk to the workforce, can be fixed.

On the flip side, it is worth noting the over 50’s are some of the fastest adopters of new technology, as social media will attest. Implementing a culture that encourages learning and development will see your employees thrive.

Organisational culture is a powerful differentiator. It can be the foundation to transform into the new world of work, to bring everyone on the journey.

Read more about the effects of legacy thinking on innovation and transformation by downloading our thought piece, The Robots Are Coming. Can Manufacturing Future Proof Its Culture? here

If you’d like to talk to us about fixing and future-proofing your work culture, get in touch with us at human@cultureconsultancy.com