So, you have the digital transformation playbook down for your organisation. You have your value drivers and already have customer insights. Customer satisfaction guaranteed.
Except, if you are planning on succeeding with the complete implementation, you need to be sure your employees are also completely onboard. Digital journeys often overlook the human element, focusing on the customer journey instead of the employees.
That needs to change. Humans are at the heart of any organisation, and they are the ones who will be called on to ensure the success of the new technology. Engaging your employees from the get-go can mean a better digital journey.
New technology can be disruptive, which is why managing change should be the key focus of HR. Resistance to change is the biggest threat that faces any sort of technological adoption. You can overcome this challenge by taking a look at your people and making sure that they have what it takes for the firm to delight clients with the digital transformation.
Talk about it
While everyone loves to hear about intelligent operations, AI and all of the wonderful things digital transformation can do. But the real fear within people whose jobs are directly impacted by these technologies are familiar: Will a machine replace me? Will my role be defunct? How can I continue to contribute and grow in my career in a digital world?
As HR professionals, these questions if left unanswered should trigger warning bells. Managing any sort of change in an organisation needs to begin with conversation. This of course, isn’t limited to just upper management taking a big decision to put the company at the forefront of new technology that can benefit their customer base. It really starts with focusing on the people who make up the heart of the organisation. Which is why companies that have successfully navigated the tides of digital transformation are those who had those vital conversations with their employees and put their fears to rest.
All of these conversations should be leading towards getting your employees to view the new technology as a positive. Honestly, clear briefings and access to transformational data is imperative to give your people the confidence they need in new technology. Keep the information constant, so that there is a steady stream of assets available for people to understand the impact the new technology they will have on their client as well as their own daily lives. There should of course be a two way flow where concerns are allowed to be voiced, and are addressed. Engage directly with employees through live sessions so that questions can be directly answered from leaders that they trust.
It is definitely the time to bend the barrier that people usually sense between senior management and frontline staff. In larger organisations this can mean having the C suite seen and heard by people more frequently, not just through videos but in person. Employees can better embrace the significance of technological disruptions when they see that this is something the leaders they trust in believe in as well.
Focus on roles
Understanding the human element of digital transformation is not just limited to assuaging people’s fears around new technology. It also takes into considering correctly shaping organisational roles so that the human capital is benefited as opposed to being made redundant. Assessing the current skill set is an ongoing exercise for any HR department. During a transformational journey this becomes even more important. Taking a closer look at skills that can be constructive and which new skills that the technology would demand. Work closely with middle management to understand how these skills and roles need to be remapped prior to implementation phase.
Reshaping roles can impact hiring decisions. Recruitment’s focus will obviously be on filling the technical gaps within the firm. In cases where upscaling has to be done within a relatively short time, the technical skill gaps can be filled through contract workers. Hiring new employees does not necessarily mean trimming the fat from the rest of the company. The true focus of HR should be to shift to an agile workforce that can rise up to change with flexibility. There could always be skilled people in your organisation stuck doing a role they aren’t interested in anymore, so look within as you look without.
All of these changes can mean good news for your existing staff who can finally work on tasks that are less transactional in nature, adding value to their daily work. At the end of the day, personnel are more engaged when they have a sense of achievement. This can be through working on activities that have a logical conclusion, or that offer a boost to their existing skill set and enable them to broaden their portfolio. By addressing these needs, you can directly feed into their positive psyche, giving them the opportunity to wholeheartedly accept the impending digital transformation rather than dreading it.
Look beyond skills
For team leaders this can mean looking at strengths that teams bring to the table and how they can work together to navigate change. This is a clear indication that organisations are looking beyond the traditional understanding of skills, because employee interactions between teams is what can make or break a change implementation. Employees tend to be more accepting of strength based assessments because it does not require any outward effort from them to enhance, and rather places the responsibility on middle management to make sure the right people are staffed in the right positions.
While it is the frontline and the senior management who are normally targeted to accept a new technology, middle management also needs to be roped in. That way that they can balance out the change by working directly with frontline staff to ensure smooth sailing. Giving them a larger role to play during the implementation journey can mean a better buy in for middle management. This helps in employee retention and employee engagement, as much as any other initiative in the HR handbook. This can be done through targeted training opportunities for various levels of the workforce.
Train to win
Finally, communicating all of this to your employees has to be done in a structured manner. A well crafted campaign around easing digital transformation into the lives of your employees doesn’t just work with mailers. Harnessing the power of learning can give your employees the insights they would probably not have the inclination to glean otherwise. Investing in learning is a crucial part of the change management process, as many HR professionals have come to realise.
Many companies are realising that they do not have the inhouse knowledge to bring their people up to speed on the vast array of digital technologies that exist in the real world. These companies need to be able to deliver training to their workforce that can cater to their current technological proficiency levels. That’s where partnering with technological academies can help. Identify the right training partners that can deliver the results you need at the pace you need. This can mean entering into 5 to 7 year contracts with organisations that have been able to deliver on strong learning results for companies that are dealing with technological shifts.
Developing, or purchasing, learning assets that empower people to successfully adapt to huge disruptive changes is another crucial aspect to look into. Employees would benefit from training that will equip them with the emotional knowhow required to implement new changes in the right way. This helps personnel cope with change that will impact their roles, and hence careers. It will also enable them to interact better with each other and understand how they can better contribute to the success of the firm. The boost in employee morale and engagement is palpable, as observed by several industry consultants.
How people can take this training is also important. Take advantage of the latest learning trends so that your people can assimilate this information impactfully. Look for learning partners that can provide learning beyond traditional training, to give different options for the diverse workforce you have. Online training trumps classroom training to a great degree, but both are essential to have a complete learning experience. Live sessions, webinars, videos and in-person meetings can also be hugely impactful to deliver this knowledge to your workforce. Therefore, getting your L&D department onboard is a key step to take during your digital implementation.
As final thoughts, it is time to hone your digital strategy in light of the people who work for you. Factoring your digital transformation strategy into your fiscal budget should be at the very top of your priority list as you ease into the new technology. Conveying this importance to senior management is also an important task to achieve for HR. Develop your toolkit as you go, remembering to focus on the 360 degree shift this can mean for a large chunk of the human capital in the organisation. Happy employees will win you happy customers, and that should be the end goal of any digital transformation.