how to fight disengagement in digital transformation

The Art of Management: How to Fight Employee Disengagement During a Digitalisation Process

The Art of Management, invites business leaders, from all fields, to share their insights and expertise on a range of topics.

These interviews contain useful advice on specific areas of business that may be of use to managers and senior personnel in the workplace.

In this issue, we’re speaking to Emma O’Leary, employment law consultant for ELAS Group, about the strategies businesses can take to limit employee disengagement during digital transformation. Emma shares practical tips to help managers mitigate possible side effects of digitalisation from an employee satisfaction perspective.

Read the complete Q&A with Emma below.

fighting disengagement digital

Working in employment law and HR, have you observed roles changing beyond the original scope of responsibilities? And, if so, are long-serving employees at a disadvantage?

Yes – technology evolves rapidly and for businesses that want or have to embrace change, it’s having an impact on the staff whose role it affects. One of the effects of digital transformation could be redundancy, in particular, those roles that might be susceptible to automation; where machines do most of the manual tasks – saving cash spend on wages.

If staff are still needed, longer serving employees could be required to retrain and may be resistant to this, because it could change the nature of their role.

What are the most important steps a business must take if they are implementing new digital processes?

The first step should be to consult staff on any planned changes. You also need to make sure that the employees receive adequate training when changing their day-to-day processes. One of the biggest mistakes’ companies can make is trying to progress their business’ operations without first confirming that their current staff are informed enough to make the changes.

fight disengagement digital transformation

Should all employees be involved in the discussion whether to undertake a widespread digital transformation?

Usually this is a management decision, but it could be helpful to involve some staff on the ‘factory floor’ as it were since they do the job day-to-day and are best-placed to assess how feasible it might be. Realistically, companies can’t guarantee that all employees are on the same page, so it comes down to the size and scale of the company, and whether they have the staffing capabilities to involve everybody on important decisions.

If certain employees, departments or branches are not happy with the prospect of new digital processes – how can a business protect against disengagement?

Businesses need to engage and consult with their staff, ‘selling’ it to the employees as a change that is positive and will allow the business to evolve and develop, something which, in the long term, will ultimately benefit them.

Recent research suggests that over half of all employees subjected to digital process changes believe they received insufficient training. Why do you think this is?

It may be that some employees are not as tech-savvy and do not feel that the training is sufficient because they are unable to get to grips with the new technology. It could also be that some companies are not trying and testing the process before it’s implemented, and paying lip service to the training that might be required.

fight disengagement digital transformation

Finally, the majority of employees believe that digital transformation has made their role more challenging. Do you believe that some businesses are implementing digital changes without thought for their workforce?

Certainly, that will be the case.  Some business owners will only see the impact on the business as a whole rather than how it affects the staff and will not appreciate that impact.

We’d like to thank Emma for sharing her expertise and insights on what is becoming an increasingly important topic for UK businesses. Don’t forget that you can read more articles from The Art of Management series using the links below:

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