We often underestimate the significance of digital transformation and how it’s changed the way we work and live over the past few years. You’ve likely read countless articles on working from home and our “new normal.” But this transformation is not limited to where we work from. The accelerated transformation that has taken place over the last few years has changed the way employers approach their employees on a fundamental level (and vice versa).
It is the responsibility of employers to help their staff succeed, and the pandemic made this increasingly clear. With a shift to remote work, many companies had to reconfigure their processes and procedures within the span of days. Unfortunately, some company leaders left this responsibility up to the employees themselves, causing an undue amount of stress and difficulty.
I believe that this is part of the reason why the "Great Resignation" came to be what it is today.
In the past, HR departments and executives could check in at an employee’s desk, conduct in-person meetings and interviews, and engage in day-to-day watercooler chats. The rate of digital acceleration and remote communication permanently altered this style of interaction. In order for employees to succeed in a digital workforce, leaders need to identify the challenges their employees face and provide them with the resources they need to succeed. Here are three actions leaders can take to support their teams in 2022 and beyond.
Give them the tools to succeed.
Preparing people for the future of work will involve adopting technology at an increased pace. For example, my company utilizes artificial intelligence and automation tools such as intelligent document processing (IDP) solutions for customers. We also leverage cloud-based technology to enable employees to work remotely from anywhere, at any time, in a secure environment. This gives your team the tool sets they require and is paramount to success in today’s digital world.
Another element that can be solved with tech is reducing the minutiae. You hired your staff for their expertise and intellect, but you also hired them for their perspective, experience and personality—yes, personality and being able to fit into the team structure matters. You didn’t hire them to perform the data entry and mundane paperwork tasks that are important but don’t require human decision-making and personalized expertise. That’s where machine learning and AI come in. The future of business requires technology that automates and streamlines the minutiae so that your staff can focus on their core functions. This should improve their work experience and ensure better efficiency.
Make flexibility one of your core values.
Flexibility in the workplace is no longer a perk—it’s a necessary part of making sure your employees feel fulfilled in the workplace. The next generation of workers expects flexibility as a part of their job description. This will be a key part of not only attracting top talent but also helping employees succeed in the digital age. Giving them the means to complete their work in the manner that best suits them will only benefit your company long term.
Focus on outcomes and employee autonomy.
Many leaders prioritize processes (don’t we all?) but fail to broaden their focus to include the well-being of their employees. This needs to change. Leaders need to consider whether the processes they are prioritizing really suit their employees’ working styles. In some cases, we need to set processes aside and give our staff the autonomy to work in the way that best suits them.
The key here is still holding your teams accountable for the desired outcomes but not necessarily dictating the processes they use to achieve the desired outcome. This autonomy will be a significant marker in the era of digital acceleration. People can work in their own way, manage their own time and still achieve their company’s desired outcome.
Now, employers must still offer assistance and guide rails throughout this process—for example, if you want to implement new software or technology, you need to take the time to ensure every employee is trained and educated. But once your team has the tools and knows how to use them, trust the people you hired to work in the ways that work best for them. This will improve their work experience, increase their motivation, and help them take responsibility for their contributions to the company as a whole.
Overall, success in the era of digital transformation looks like focusing on what matters—and for any company, your employees are the heartbeat of your organization. Giving them the toolsets they need along with flexibility and a focus on outcomes, not the process, will enable them as individuals—and the company as a whole—to be successful.