Digital transformation is, well, transformative. In many ways, this can be a deeply positive thing for companies, employees, and consumers alike. However, no matter how beneficial, change is not always easy. This is especially true for your employees, who are likely to feel pretty comfortable with the status quo, have habituated themselves to their job processes and workflow, and may be reluctant to try something new.
This is where the importance of the HR leader shines through. As an HR expert, you’re going to be uniquely positioned to support employees in their efforts to adapt to digital transformation. This article discusses the role of HR in digital transformation and HR best practices for leading the workforce through the digital transition.
Why Digital Transformation Matters
Anyone who’s been paying attention knows that the digital era is in full effect. Any company that fails to leverage the immense power of technology in today’s global marketplace does so at its peril.
Indeed, no matter the industry, the odds are that digital transformation has already significantly impacted your organization and your employees, whether they’re technologists, educators, or frontline workers.
As an HR leader, it’s your responsibility to help ensure that your organization, and your staff, benefits from the immense potential that digital transformation offers in the workplace. From driving efficiency and productivity to dramatically expanding market reach to enabling unprecedented support for employees, the ascendancy of technology-driven systems in your organization may well revolutionize your company and your workforce alike.
However, the vast potential of digital transformation will never be realized if your workforce is left behind and if your employees are unable or unwilling to adapt to the profound changes that transformation requires. Your role as an HR specialist will principally be centered on providing the training and support your teams will need both to buy into the change and to acquire the skills needed for the transition.
Supporting Organizational Change
One of the most important things you can do to foster digital transformation in your organization is help cultivate a change mindset in your employees. The evolving role of technology in your company will inevitably mean that not only will work processes change, often dramatically, but employee and institutional priorities will change, too.
For example, where once your organization might have prioritized face-to-face interactions between sales teams and existing and prospective clients, new policies following the digital transformation may require more online than in-person interactions with clients.
Sales representatives used to developing personal connections with clients may resist the transition to a digital space. They may have particular difficulty in understanding how to effectively make the transition or in defining what will or should be expected of their client interactions in this new space.
Helping your team to better define their roles in the digital environment, including understanding how new priorities relate to and align with old ones, can mitigate much of the ambiguity that so often leads to resistance.
In addition, offering specific and tangible solutions to help employees transition their job processes can also support buy-in and performance.
For example, employees who find themselves having to shift from in-person to online networking might find motivation and inspiration in learning how to create, distribute, and update digital business cards. Teaching your employees to use digital business cards not only offers practical benefits but also provides a ready example of ways technology can enhance their work, offering unprecedented opportunities for creative innovation and exceptional productivity.
Utilizing and Maintaining the Tech
A distinct benefit of digital transformation for employees is the increased opportunity for hybrid or fully remote work. Your staff will probably welcome the chance to work from home and relieve themselves of the burden of a daily commute and often exorbitant childcare costs.
However, these advantages can quickly be undermined if your employees are not equipped to work effectively with their home-based work tech. Make sure that you are well equipped to foster internal communication in a way that works for a variety of communication styles, like video.
What this means is that you will need to be prepared to support your employees in establishing a highly functional home office. Perhaps the most important aspect of this element of the digital transformation will be in ensuring your employees have the resources and strategies in place to maintain a fast, reliable, and secure connection to the office network. Thus, you will likely need to assist your hybrid or remote employees in establishing at least two secure hubs, such as a primary Wi-Fi connection and a hotspot connection to serve as a secure backup if and when the primary network goes down.
One of the most important ways you can support employee adoption in the wake of a digital transformation is by providing consistent and comprehensive cybersecurity support. Your employees may have significant anxiety regarding cyberthreats.
If they perceive themselves as unfamiliar with the new technology, for example, they may fear that they won’t be able to recognize cyberthreats and instigate a security breach that can put the client, the company, and even their own jobs at risk.
In light of this, it’s incumbent on HR leaders to provide employees with the training they need to feel secure not only in using the technology but also in protecting against cyberthreats.
Digital transformation is changing the way we do business. It is also leading to unprecedented performance in organizations equipped to leverage the technology to the fullest. HR leaders play a pivotal role in this effort insofar as they provide essential training and support for employees learning to adapt to this new and powerful technology.
Katie Brenneman is a Guest Contributor at HR Daily Advisor.