The Biggest Digital Transformation Challenge for Today’s HR Leaders

WalkMe TeamCulture2018 09 12
The Biggest Digital Transformation Challenge for Today’s HR Leaders
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Digital is happening whether you like it or not.  As the C-suite wakes up to the business potential of digital transformation, HR is beginning to realize the gravity of their new role.  Less than a decade ago, human resources fulfilled a support function focused on benefits and contracts. Today, HR leaders are expected to take a key role in driving digital change.  The IT department can install new systems, but true transformation occurs on a much deeper level. Organizations need to redefine their company culture and train leadership to think differently.

It is up to HR leaders to lead their organization in human-centered digital transformation.

Today’s HR departments must help  organizations be digital, not just do digital

The digital coin has a more than two faces:

  • The digital workforce: Empowering a culture of innovation, new management practices and processes. This also means recruiting employees with the right skills to excel in the digital workplace as well as training existing employee.
  • The digital workplace: Designing digital environments that promote productivity and employee well-being. This spans from communication to collaboration — it is HR’s responsibility to make sure digital works from the employee.
  • Digital HR: Shifting HR operations and processes to the digital sphere. Don’t forget that while all of this change is happening throughout the organization, it is also happening within the HR department itself adding. The challenge for HR is to both manage their own internal changes while supporting the rest of the dept.

The common denominator of these functions is the experience of the humans involved

Transformation is often described in terms of its “cold” factors — technology, processes, logistics. But organizations can not afford to forget that successful digital change must be reinforced by cultural and social (or “warm”) factors.

Digitalization is as much an evolution of the workforce as it is workplace tools.

Yet, it is all too easy to forget that behind each digitized process or updated software there is a human.

These humans aren’t concerned with industry-wide transformation. They didn’t request to move from the legacy system to the more agile SaaS platform. They probably aren’t particularly enthused about the changes occurring within their professional domain. And yet, your entire digital strategy depends on these humans’ ability to successfully change everything about the way they work.

Pouring your IT budget into cutting-edge systems without addressing the human factor — how your employees learn and work — will not lead to digital maturity. Instead, you will foster resistance and disengagement in the workforce.

Digital change + poor change management = employee overwhelm

Becoming a digital workplace takes a toll on employees. Many fear the the very real possibility of losing their jobs due to disruptive forces, automation, or competition.

Meanwhile, the cognitive load involved in learning and operating digital systems hurts job performance. Employees hired for their professional expertise find themselves investing disproportionate time and energy learning to use the tools meant to streamline and simplify their daily tasks.

These factors and others contribute to a growing frustration within the digital workforce.

  • Number of digital platforms: The average number of apps used by the modern worker is 9.39 (ie).
  • Insufficient software training: Only 12% of learners apply the skills received from training to their jobs (HR Drive).
  • Frequency of new software implementation: By 2020, 60% of all enterprises will be in the process of implementing a new IT foundation as part of a fully articulated organization-wide DX platform strategy (IDC).
  • Digital security obstacles: 35% of employees feel they need to work around a security measure or protocol to be able to do their work efficiently (LinkedIn).

In order to expect the same agility from employees as we do from digital processes and tools, organizations must invest in the employee experience.

Before business leaders can make changes to improve the employee experience, HR leaders need to understand how implementing new digital tools without adequate employee support leads to frustration and burnout.

Prioritizing the human factor is key to successful transformational efforts

According to Altimeter, employee behaviors and preferences shared the top spot as a primary factor driving digital transformation in 2017. They expect this number to grow as digital continues to take center stage in organizations’ business strategy.

ROI of digital assets is determined by an organization’s ability to establish the right digital habits.  PWC confirmed this with their survey of top digital performers. Those reporting revenue growth and profit margin increases above 5% for the past three years were found to possess superior understanding of the human experience that surrounds digital technology.

A digital adoption strategy is critical to digital transformation

HR has always served as the mediator between the employee and company. Today, digital systems and processes are the face of the modern organization. In order to safeguard the employee experience, HR must reshape the relationship between employees and their tools to reduce unnecessary friction.  This requires a shift in strategy. Namely, it requires HR to create a digital adoption strategy for their digital change initiatives.

Digital adoption takes into consideration both cold and warm factors, offering a human-centered framework from which to approach digital change.

Instead of focusing on isolated digital projects — such as retraining on one specific system — a digital adoption strategy takes the entire spectrum of the digital employee experience into account. It starts from before a new hire logs onto their email for the first time and spans every human-tech interaction within the organization.

A digital adoption strategy considers ways in which humans learn most effectively, and determines the optimal methods to onboard, train, retain, and support staff on digital systems.

This differs from the traditional training methods in that it proactively addresses the root issues that arise when humans use complex technology and solves them in a contextual manner.

A digital adoption strategy is critical to long-term success, because it takes structural and cultural changes into account. It helps your organization see digital change as an ongoing aspect of the business strategy, not a one-off project. Most importantly, it pays attention to the human factors that can make or break your digital transformation effort.

This content was provided by UNLEASH sponsor WalkMe.

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