The year 2020 had been a curveball that nobody anticipated. One of the biggest challenges to businesses worldwide was perhaps the abrupt change to an entirely remote work arrangement. It has radically reshaped the way we work, collaborate, and communicate. The current scenario has really re-established the fact that digital transformation is more than just a corporate buzzword. It is here to stay.
In a study conducted by the Harvard Business Review (HBR), more than 66% of CEOs said they expect their companies to change their business model in the next three years, with 62% stating they have management initiatives or transformation programs underway to make their business more digital.
With the advent of digital transformation, the very nature of work is evolving. The significant uses of artificial intelligence, machine learning, automation, and digitalization had resulted in debates over machines replacing people in the future.
But that is not entirely, if not wholly, false. People will always constitute an indispensable part of any organization. While companies will still need to be people-first to ensure successful business results, there will be a significant shift in both employers’ and employees’ roles.
Companies would need to ensure a delicate balance between its people, and the eventual digitalization is suitably maintained. A disbalance would involve disengaged people, lowered satisfaction, and eventual turnover. Thus, employees’ changing expectations must be collected, addressed, and resolved in the face of digital transformation.
But first, let us have a look at the different ways in which your employees’ needs and expectations are developing while undergoing a workplace digital transformation:
With the advent of a millennial and Gen Z based workforce, the traditional hiring process needs a significant upgrade. Not only are these tech-savvy, new wave of workers looking for creative and innovative places to work, but they are also taking an entirely new approach to the usual job hunt.
Flyers, newspaper ads, or even the traditional job portal sites are not quite the place where these individuals are looking for jobs. In this age of digital transformation, the last five years have seen a dramatic increase in the concept of approaching recruiters or finding jobs through the use of social networking sites such as LinkedIn.
Additionally, there has been a rise in the number of businesses that use the popularity of Instagram to post engaging in hiring ads that attract the new generational workforce towards internships and entry-level jobs.
Just like in every other organizational aspect, hiring is supposed to be easier, faster, convenient, and beneficial in the digital age.
The rise of digital transformation has ensured demand for skilled talents while ensuring that these top talents know that they are in demand right now. Thus, it has considerably increased the number of options available to them.
As a result, it’s just not the salary that these top talents are looking for. It’s a competitive benefits package, the right company culture, a diverse and inclusive workplace, and many such factors considered before joining an organization.
To meet such expectations, organizations need to up their hiring game by ensuring that the recruitment process is modified to meet this drastically new wave of employees’ needs.
2. More Empowerment
As referred to earlier, digital transformation has seen debates and concerns about workers’ jobs going obsolete. It has resulted in employees being hard-pressed to reevaluate their jobs’ security and, as a result, being hesitant to warm up with the idea of digital transformation.
Perhaps, the greatest challenge that businesses will face is the smooth transition to a digitally enhanced workplace while ensuring that the workforce’s efficiency is still maintained. One key strategy that employers should use is to back the idea of empowering their employees.
Empowerment would provide the workplace with the opportunity to feel in control over their jobs. Employees should be awarded key roles in enacting organizational changes, especially those concerned with digitalization.
Employees must have a say over which workplace aspects should digitalization be enforced. Additionally, good leaders are proactive in ensuring that there are enough training and development opportunities provided that teach employees how to work alongside tech innovations to ensure optimal business outcomes.
3. Limiting Wasteful Events
One of the perks of digital transformation that your employees are definitely expecting is a huge reduction of workplace events that consume their time, focus, and productivity. It’s not only events but also resources that can be considerably saved with the aid of digitalization.
Employees would expect their time and energy to be spent on strategically vital tasks instead of spending it on useless events.
a. Limited Meetings
With information being exchanged rapidly, the necessity of meeting is decreasing day by day. Organizations should ensure that meetings are limited to only crucial conditions. Decide the meeting topics beforehand so that there is no straying from the point to be made.
b. Enhanced Communication
A good communication strategy can be further enhanced through the aid of digitalization. The sheer amount of communication tools available today will be enough to overcome any communication gap that your team might be suffering from.
Lack of or poorly executed communication measures can hamper productivity and result in conflicts, toxicity, and delayed tasks. The use of the right communication practices would boost productivity, streamline performance, and increase teams’ effectiveness.
c. Collaboration Tools
Effective collaboration- between employees, between teams, and between distributed teams- is the solution to ensuring smooth execution of business processes.
Collaboration tools such as project management apps, time management apps, or even file sharing apps can streamline a team’s performance by ensuring transparency and accountability.
Different teams need different collaboration tools. Ensure that the one you eventually select should fit the requirements that your team has. Additionally, employers should ensure that collaborative tools are advocated for and encouraged to use regularly.
d. Reduce Office Waste
Waste can also be generated in the form of environmental wastes such as files, papers, and h that should be obsolete in this digital age. Using digitalization aid, you can really reduce the amount of waste produced by an office location. Move the majority of your records to the cloud and ensure that the paper waste is recycled.
As stated earlier, the new digital-savvy workers are looking for more than just a paycheck. For these new workers, the quality of work-life is an integral factor for remaining at an organization.
Subsequently, with organizations and leaders being more aware of the importance of rationing these top talents, there has been a recent influx of tools and software that increase engagement levels among employees.
Perhaps the most effective way to heighten engagement is to reward and recognize your employees in a frequent, timely, and value-based manner.
a. Frequent Recognition
Ensure that recognition is given periodically and is not a “once in a blue moon” kind of situation.
b. Timely Recognition
Recognize people as soon as possible. Practice the principle of “on the spot” recognition, where a piece of good work is acknowledged instantaneously.
c. Value-Based Recognition
Recognize and reward the behaviors that you wish for other employees to follow. Once a particular behavior is appreciated, it will inspire others to follow in the same footsteps.
It might seem complex, costly, and a time-consuming process, but it needn’t have to be. A good reward and recognition platform will make appreciating your workforce easier and more convenient for you.
Many of these rewards and recognition platforms offer cost-effective prices, multi-platform functionality, and social feeds that mimic social networking sites’ timeline. This not only ensures that your employees feel happier and harbor feelings of loyalty towards the organization, but it is also an excellent form of employer advocacy.
When a company culture prioritizes such frequent appreciation, the employees are more likely to promote such a workplace individually. That, in turn, will garner interest in your brand identity and will also attract new hires to your organization.
5. More Autonomy, Greater Flexibility
Digital transformation will ensure that the ease of work is greatly increased, resulting in employees demanding a more flexible work schedule that prioritizes their need for work-life balance.
In recent years, the popularity of gig and remote working has been growing steadily. Now that, in 2020, most employers and employees are considering the prospect of ever returning to a physical office location.
In fact, Twitter had recently announced its decision to let its staff have the option of “working from home forever.”
Digital transformation has made it possible for people to work at their own convenience, at any given place, at any time. As a result, employees are happier, are less stressed, and face burnout less frequently.
A survey collaboration between Wakefield Research and Citrix found that 50% of office professionals who work in a flexible work environment have found increased productivity, and 40% of professionals would turn down a job opportunity if it did not include the opportunity of flexible work. 87% of surveyed employees reported seeing positive outcomes due to their company’s dedication to providing flexible work solutions.
Employees of today seek autonomy and control over the work that they do. Unlike previous generations, people are looking for ways to do purposeful work that incite happiness and satisfaction.
For businesses that are embarking on a digital transformation path, it’s essential to understand that granting more autonomy and flexibility will be an expectation that your workforce will seek.
6. Aligning Organizational Culture
It might seem to be not of vital importance, but an organization’s culture is the first to feel the consequences of a shift to digitalization.
In a BCG study of 40 digital transformations, companies that focused on culture were 5x more likely to achieve breakthrough performance than companies that neglected culture.
Digital culture is fast, responsive, risky, and promotes constant innovations. These characteristics might prove overwhelming and alien to many employees who have not adapted to the circumstances yet.
A culture that is slowly inching towards a digital future may create disengagement if not managed properly. You need to ensure that your employees do not feel out of place with the new changes being introduced. Here are some ways to ensure that the transition of your workforce from their old company culture to a new digital culture is as seamless as possible:
- Provide the necessary training opportunities. It might be a physical workshop or even can be a subscription to an eLearning platform.
- Mentorship or buddy programs are an excellent way for peers to team up and navigate the digital culture’s workings together.
- The organization’s leader should re-learn new behaviors and even change their leadership style to fit the new requirements.
- Collaboration should be prioritized and implemented. Encourage employees to connect, learn, and engage with their peers to develop new ideas and solutions. Cross-functioning teams are a great example of how digitalization can be implemented by diverse teams to achieve a common goal.
Like it or not, the shift to a digital workplace is inevitable. It is no longer a case of “if” but a “when”. 2020 has revealed how digital transformation doesn’t seek to replace people but will help make work-life a tad bit easier.
When businesses talk about digital transformation, it’s essential to consider its implications on the workforce as well. Your employees are more likely to adjust to digital work culture if their expectations are considered to be critical and addressed as such.
Digital transformation is about reimaging the way people, data, and processes are brought together. However, when done right, digital transformation can elevate the employee experience, increase engagement, and give employees the work-life balance that they seek. As a result, adopting a digital culture will see a significant increase in performance and productivity.