Bridging the digital divide between the home and office
When the technology that employees use in their personal lives clashes with the one that they use in their workplace, people are more likely to feel a disconnect and eventually get disengaged from their work and invariably their employers.
Outdated HR Technology in the office leads to indifference among employees who, in their personal lives, thrive in a digitized life surrounded by smartphones, wearable devices, and high-speed Internet connectivity.
According to a study done by KPMG of 1,200 HR executives across the world, only 39 percent of the people leaders are confident in their ability to transform the workforce. About 24 percent of the HR leaders surveyed said they felt less or not confident at all in their ability to transform the workplace and their own function.
Those leaders who believed they were not equipped for digital transformation within their work also cited that in their organizations, they felt that there was no digital plan in place or foreseeable in the near future. The work culture as a whole had a quality of being afraid of AI, some added. Moreover, some also said that HR was not seen as a value driver in the company and did not use predictive insights to create a holistic employee experience.
Even though two-thirds of the talent leaders surveyed said that HR is going through a major digital transformation, only 40 percent of the leaders said they had a digital work-plan in place at the HR level.
Creating employee experience
How can HR leaders bridge this digital divide to create employee experiences that not only ensure that employees remain engaged and productive but also factor in the all-important business bottom line?
According to the KPMG research, some of the common characteristics of those HR professionals who say they can thrive in the digital era include:
- Delivering predictive insights
- Believing in, and driving digital agenda
- Reshaping the workforce
- Enhancing the employee experience
Almost 24 percent of the HR leaders surveyed felt they were less or not confident in their ability to transform the workforce and their own function.
Some of the common characteristics of the companies whose HR leaders said they were less or not confident about digital transformation were:
- HR not seen as value driver
- HR not using predictive insights
- Generally timid of AI
- No digital plan in place (and no plans in sight)
Even though 70 percent of the executives identify the need for workforce transformation, only 37 percent actually believe in the HR’s ability to transform and enable the organization to move ahead in key capabilities such as analytics and AI. About 35 percent of the leaders said their current organizational culture is focused on tasks rather than innovating new products or experimenting with improved processes.
Employee attitudes and emotions
A Global Study by Unisys in Australia found that there is a major difference between companies that are technology leaders and technology laggards and it has a long-lasting impact on the business output. Moreover, it has an adverse effect on employee attitudes and emotions.
The study also found that those employees who are working at “technology laggard” companies are 600 percent more likely to be frustrated.
“The cost of not engaging employees in the workplace has real consequences. Personal productivity is a key motivator that not only impacts an employee’s ability to do their job efficiently but also how engaged and committed they are to their employer,” said Leon Sayers, Lead Advisory Consultant for Unisys APAC.
Companies who took the time and effort to invest in the technological well-being of their employees were able to make 4.2 times the average profit, as compared to those organizations that chose to overlook the looming digital divide.
For many workers in the APAC region, a lack of fast and updated devices to perform their work is a major reason for disengagement. About 53 percent of the employees in “technology laggard” companies claim that their speed of work is hampered because of the slow devices. Whereas, employees of a “technology leader” are likely to be more than three times faster in their work.
“Designing and implementing an effective digital workplace requires effective organizational change management and consultation to ensure employees have the right technology to do their jobs, and they are comfortable using it,” Sayers added.
Fixing the digital divide
If not addressed right away, the digital gap between an employee’s digital experience at home vs. her digital world at work will continue to widen and result in lower productivity levels. And, neither the HR leaders nor the organizational leadership nor the employees themselves are going to benefit in the long run.
The first step towards fixing this challenge is to identify the areas wherein an organization is lagging behind in technological experience. Be it related to installing new devices or upgrading existing software, these are real and relevant differences that need to be addressed. Once HR leaders identify the gaps, getting the business buy-in is the next crucial step. The best way to get the leadership’s involvement in the digital transformation initiative is to show the impact, not tell.
A major part of bridging the digital divide is to listen closely to the employees. Understanding the digital environment that they are exposed to outside of work. Know the apps, platforms and social media networks that they prefer and are active on. Real change can be implemented in the workplace only when HR leaders stop and pay close attention to not only what the leadership has to say but also get a pulse of the employees’ emotions and attitudes.