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How do employees really feel about digital transformation?

By Patrick Martlew
Wed 22 Nov 2017
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Article by Chris Gibbs, BMC A/NZ managing director

Technological change is one of the biggest challenges facing human resources managers today.

A recent study by BMC and Opinion Life revealed digital workplace disruption has instilled some fear in employees that they may one day lose their jobs to these automation and artificial intelligence technologies.

We are seeing companies transform their business environments, leveraging new technology that automates processes to achieve greater productivity, more streamlined operations, and enhanced collaboration.

Referred to as ‘digital transformation’, this has been a determining factor of competitive advantage and success over the past decade. But how is it being perceived by staff members?

The reality is that new technology will never be able to take over entire workforces, but will certainly become part of them. With this in mind, it is now vital for business leaders to design digital workplaces that enable staff and technology to work seamlessly together.

To do so, employers need to place staff at the centre of the workplace equation and provide them with the tools and services they need to feel empowered and get their jobs done.   

Do you know how your employees feel?

88% of respondents to the BMC survey place the responsibility of creating innovative cultures on their employers.

As the saying goes, “a happy wife equals a happy life,” and the same applies for happy employees. If a company works toward boosting job satisfaction, the potential for positive outcomes is limitless. This includes retaining talented employees and kicking business goals out of the park.

Start listening, now.

In this period of rapid change, the time to start listening to your workforce is now. Get in front before any more anxiety or resentment builds and find out exactly what your staff members are concerned about.

Feeling heard gives an employee a huge boost of self-worth. Just providing opportunities for staff to offer insights about changes that are occurring around the office is a healthy start. Then back it up by designing a workplace that will make the roles of staff easier, collaborative, social, and reflective of experiences that are similar to their personal lives.

And then over-communicate.

In 2017, 40% of global workers expressed fear that they will not be able to keep up with the rate of change that digital workplaces command.

Feedback such as this suggests a need for organisations to educate staff about digital transformation, its benefits, and how to work with the technology. Creating open lines of communication is vital.

Empowerment is a matter of good culture.

Corporate culture dictates a lot of how people feel about their careers so it’s extremely beneficial to create a feeling of empowerment among staff. There are a number of ways you can turn digital transformation from a confusing experience to a positive one for employees:

  • Design a mobile, flexible workplace that supports employees’ different styles of working, build sufficient spaces for activity, and install technology to make simple tasks as seamless as they should be.

  • Provide more than adequate training for anyone needing to interact with new technology. There is nothing worse than being expected to get on with your job, but instead fumbling around with IT logins, new devices, and programs of which you can’t make head or tail

  • Not only do employees learn new skills to work with new technology, but the efficiency provided by the digital workplace should allow time for upskilling staff. Hours that have been freed up can now be used to invest in helping staff work on interests they may have had within the business for years but never had the opportunity to pursue.

  • Now that technology is executing a lot of the grunt work, allow your human employees to get creative, think about innovation and spend time brainstorming strategy and new ideas that could take your business beyond previous limits.

  • Continue the support. Just because you have finished giving your office a makeover and everyone has attended skills training sessions does not mean your staff exist in a state of readiness 100% of the time. Keep the conversations open and as technology keeps evolving, stay in touch with your employees.

By 2025 millennials will hold 75% cent of jobs. Their expectation is that professional lives should reflect consumer-oriented experiences, which includes the digital connections they make almost every minute via mobile devices and apps.

Digital workplaces are the future, so it’s time for Australian business leaders to engage with and empower employees so they feel primed and ready to tackle this new era head-on.

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