Digital transformation offers the opportunity to optimize, expand, and streamline processes, but for employees, it often means taking on risk. Employees switching to new tools, new work processes, and even new roles will experience skills gaps and job insecurity, which can lead to resistance, even in the face of positive change.

Taking the steps to communicate changes to your workforce, educate employees to avoid skills gaps, and empower your employees throughout the digital transformation process will ensure better success.

Managing Open Communication

While many organizations struggle with balancing sharing information, with the goal not to share too early in case of a restructure but also not too late, conducting open and honest communication from the start is always your best policy.

While this may reduce morale if your digital transformation includes restructuring some departments, clearly communicating how you will move, retrain, or help individuals in those roles will help to quell anxieties and problems.

You have to communicate:

  • What digital transformation is
  • The benefits to the organization and to the employee
  • New tools being introduced
  • What training will be provided to help employees adapt
  • What is expected of employees
  • Which roles will be created, which will be obsolete
  • Options for those in roles with outdated skills
  • When changes will take place and how quickly they will be adopted

Rather than simply creating talking points for managers, consider hosting town-halls or open meetings, where teams can openly discuss what they expect, how they can benefit, and what digital transformation will mean for them in their role.

Get Teams Involved

Part of digital transformation is switching to digital and cloud-based tooling, employee assessment, processes, and competencies. While you can conduct these changes completely independent of your workforce, you can also empower them by keeping them involved. Conducting town halls with employees will allow them to help choose new tools based on individual team needs. Interviews and meetings will allow experienced persons to help set competencies and skills needed in specific roles. And involving teams with their own processes, such as through a managed portal, will empower individuals to control how they work.

While no one should be able to make arbitrary changes, involving individuals, openly asking what they want, and allowing them to see and take part in the decision-making process will empower them to improve their work-environment, while giving HR live feedback on how things actually work.

Pushing Digital Transformation

Many people are afraid of automation, with 37% expressing anxiety over automation in one survey. Most roles cannot be fully automated, simply because it’s difficult to replace human ingenuity. If you can quell anxieties relating to job insecurity, you will go a long way towards bridging gaps in change resistance.

Teams should see digital transformation as an opportunity to automate tedious manual processes, to improve and digitize tooling and processes (and perhaps combine them), and creating time and space to focus on business-critical activities.

At the same time, you should be prepared to offer training for new software and processes, work to move individuals into new roles as theirs become obsolete, and communicate how you will take care of your people to ensure talent retention throughout the shift.

At the end of the day, digital transformation is about employee empowerment. Digitally transformed companies offer more solutions, better tooling, more transparent information, and better access to resources, all of which greatly benefit those on the work floor. Your primary goal should be to communicate this in as clear a fashion as possible, while creating programs to bridge knowledge and skill gaps created by the change.

About the Author: Jocelyn Pick