When we talk about the benefits of effective digital transformation, we tend to talk about either the opportunities for marketing or the restructuring of internal systems to make them as efficient and as secure as possible. These are huge areas of focus in digital, with vital gains to me made from getting both right, but there are several other areas that can benefit from well-executed digitization.
One is employee retention. Just as customer expectations are shifting in the digital age, so are the needs of workers, as employees expect greater flexibility while also accepting a less rigid distinction between professional and personal life. As businesses assess the impact of digitization on their workforces, we take a look at four areas in which digital is having a positive impact.
An obvious benefit of digitization is the ability for employees to work from almost anywhere. Thanks to Cloud services and instant digital communication, there is very little reason for an employee to be in the office full time provided they have an internet connection and a laptop elsewhere.
There is evidence to suggest that remote workers are more productive than their office counterparts and, according to Forbes, 91% of Americans feel that they contribute more when outside of the office environment. The same study found that remote workers tend to be more satisfied with their jobs, and happier overall. This doesn't necessarily mean having employees working remotely at all times, rather it suggests that allowing for it as part of your working policy can have positive results. When Best Buy introduced a flexible working program, it reported a 35% uptick in productivity in its happier workforce.
And, plainly, people like being able to work from home. Sometimes the simple fact of avoiding the commute to and from work is enough to help an employee feel refreshed, and being in the presence of pets or loved ones for the day can be a welcome change from the pressures of an office environment. If people feel that they are being more productive from home, then job satisfaction will rise. Crucially, too, the flexibility inherent in remote work will raise morale and, ultimately, improve retention rates.
Another benefit of digitization is the removal of barriers between employees and management. Rather than having to call constant meetings, or speak to employees one by one to inform them of the company's progress and direction, management can now share information on chat systems or via email. Even if your team is spread across different locations or has members working remotely, a direct line between management and employees can now fairly easily be established.
Employees value being kept in the loop about the wider progress of their company, and being transparent about the state of the business will help the workforce feel more connected to the broader company goals. Consider sending regular updates to your employees, encourage them to contact you (within reason) with questions about the company's direction and their role within it. Making the most of the ease of access digital provides can be the difference between an engaged workforce and a disconnected one.
Fewer menial tasks
Companies that make good use of digital platforms can significantly cut down the amount of time their employees spend doing necessary but menial and uninspiring tasks. Jobs like filing data and processing invoices sap both time and morale, and getting to a point where these tasks can be streamlined or even completely automated is one of the first ports of call in digital transformation for most businesses. Software companies are emerging constantly to solve issues with working practices, and businesses should set aside budgets to remove as many menial tasks from their workforces as possible. According to Kronos, 46% of HR leaders say that burnout is responsible for up to half of their annual workforce turnover - relieving your staff of menial tasks can lighten the load.
With more time to focus on the skilled areas of their roles, employees will feel fulfilled and will be less worn down by repetitiveness and box ticking. It will also lower the number of employees you need to keep teams running effectively - with less time taken up with admin, there'll be more time to positively affect the business in other ways.
In a globalized economy, it is not uncommon to have businesses spread across a number of international offices. Having a dedicated HR team stationed in each one isn't realistic for a lot of smaller companies, though, so support has to be accessed digitally for a lot of employees. Services like Slack or Skype for Business mean that communication between employees and HR can be instantaneous, and less formal than sending emails back and forth.
Even if an employee doesn't interact with HR any more than they would have done before digitization, just knowing that they are a quick message away from support can be reassuring. Also, the ability to offer round the clock support (if employees are contactable on mobile) will be a draw for potential employees. According to Businesssolver, 92% of employees believe showing empathy is an important way to advance employee retention - offering remote, casual, speedy support is one way of doing so. Businesses today are committed to serving their customers’ support needs around the clock, why would their employees not expect the same?