Companies are increasingly pursuing digital transformation initiatives. However, many of these conversations neglect to highlight the importance of employees in transformation. Digital transformation isn’t just about technology. It’s about transforming the way you work from the ground up. And you can’t do that without people and prioritizing change management and the employee experience.
Invest in Digital Transformation with Change Management
Your employees are critical stakeholders for successful, long-term change! But to get them in your corner, you need strategic, empathetic change management. Here are five ways to support your employees throughout your digital transformation journey.
How Do You Prepare Employees for Digital Transformation?
4 Ways to Lead Employees Through Change Management
1. Close the Skill Gap
Investing in technology isn’t enough if your teams lack the skills to maximize the value of the tools. By Gartner’s estimates, the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation adoption by five years. As a result, organizations are experiencing massive skill shifts like never before. More than 58% of workforces report skill transformations since the onset of the pandemic.
Skill transformations require upskilling and reskilling your employees or pursuing partnerships like managed services. Doing so ensures that the changes you’re implementing have the necessary support to thrive long-term. And from an employee perspective, receiving proper training helps them feel valued and confident in their evolving roles.
But don’t let your skill transformation remain a one-time deal. Just as digital transformation is a long-term digital evolution, your employees’ skills will need to evolve. To prepare for this, create a plan for continuous reskilling.
2. Transform Your Company Culture
For digital transformation to be successful, organizations must fundamentally change how they do business. These changes are bound to have massive cultural implications because they are rooted in processes and people. As a result, if your organization has been doing things a certain way for a long time, your employees may be stuck in the “if it’s not broken, why fix it?” mindset. To shift this mindset, organizations must work to foster a culture of innovation that supports ongoing skill evolution.
When organizations embrace innovation and change, their employees are encouraged to experiment, challenge the status quo, and even fail. As soon as your employees begin learning new skills through upskilling and reskilling, encourage them to look for opportunities to apply their knowledge. Since this mindset requires employees to leave their comfort zones, expect to see gradual change. Some employees will take to innovation sooner than others, but those who embrace it can be shining examples. You can catch more tips on fostering a culture of innovation and continuous learning
Culture & Transformation
3. Communicate with Timely & Relevant Information
Digital transformation’s success relies on the employees’ trust in their leaders, making it a key consideration of any change management initiative. The best way to gain trust is through regular, thorough communication and transparency throughout your journey.
Communicate the Purpose and Benefits
From the start, plan to:
- Communicate the purpose and benefits of the coming change transparently. Employees must understand why the change is occurring and the long-term vision behind it.
- Explain the specific problems that make this change urgent and the measures you’re taking to fix them. Understanding where the company is headed can ease any fears or uncertainties regarding the future.
People are naturally resistant to change, especially when they don’t understand how it will positively impact them. Explain the benefits of the change in clear, tangible, relevant examples that employees can easily apply to their daily work lives. It’s also essential to address the common concern that technology takes jobs away from people. Clarify that digital transformation doesn’t replace jobs. It helps employees develop high-demand skills and creates new career opportunities.
Share the Ups and Downs of the Journey
Another way to gain employees’ trust is to share project updates regularly – the good, the bad, and the ugly. There’s nothing worse than feeling left “in the dark.” It’s sure to create an environment of doubt and mistrust. However, communicating the bad alongside the good reassures employees that you’re not hiding anything from them and consider them a valuable, vital player in your transformation. It can also prevent rumors from forming and reaffirm to employees that failure is okay. As you’re working to build a culture that values innovation, this is a vital message to convey to your workforce.
Change Management: Focus on People
5. Encourage Employee Engagement
As your employees embrace experimentation and innovation, they’ll naturally become more engaged and invested in digital transformation. However, employee engagement also relies on transparency and open dialogue.
Keep the Floor Open to Discussion
Another way to get employees invested in digital transformation is to embrace feedback. Create a dialogue with employees by actively seeking their concerns, questions, and ideas for further digital improvements. You may consider:
- establishing a dedicated email address for submitting feedback
- conducting 1-on-1 employee interviews, or surveys.
Letting your employees’ voices be heard will be valuable throughout your transformation initiatives and beyond as the company evolves.
Involve Your Internal Communications Team
Your internal communications (IC) team is a valuable ally in digital transformation. Both in their traditional roles and during times of change, IC employees should strive to improve employee engagement. They have the channels to support your communication efforts, helping to create a more informed, engaged workforce. Whether it’s a dedicated newsletter, a column in the regular company newsletter, or a segment during company meetings, consistent, ongoing communication is the goal.
However, it’s vital to ensure that your IC team’s messaging aligns seamlessly with your transformation goals. If they don’t fully understand the purpose, benefits, or broader vision of the change, their communication will be less effective. Consider involving IC professionals early on in your journey, like including them in your Center of Excellence (CoE). Their participation will bolster their ability to inform and engage the workforce and you’ll gain another valuable perspective.
Additionally, work with your IC team to ensure that information is easily accessible to all employees at every stage of your transformation. If employees must jump through hoops to find the information they seek, any feelings of frustration or confusion will only get worse. A more informed workforce is a more engaged one, making internal communications a worthy focus in change management.
Take Your Workforce Along for the Ride
Digital transformation is a company-wide initiative, and people should always come first. Your digital transformation initiatives’ success starts with engaged, happy, informed employees. Only through their support, adoption, and innovation can the technology and process transformations you pursue to flourish.
Digital Transformation: The Ultimate Guide
Get everything you need to know about digital transformation in one place, including expert tips and 5 steps you can take to start your journey now.
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