April 2019 | Point of View

Avoid these 3 common causes of digital workplace failure

Avoid these 3 common causes of digital workplace failure

As the competition to attract and retain talent intensifies, today’s employers must rise to the daunting, daily challenge of engaging five generations working side-by-side.

With a national economy at “full employment,” employee engagement and experience are imperative to pushing productivity ahead. And while a dizzying array of digital solutions are pitched as the keys to happier, more productive workers, simply sorting through those tools can be crippling.

The stakes may never have been higher: companies can unlock huge value with highly engaged employees. Gallup found that business units in the top quartile of employee engagement are 21 percent more profitable than those in the bottom quartile. But achieving that level of engagement requires meeting the expectations of the largest and fastest-growing segment of the workforce. The same 2016 study found only 29 percent of millennials are engaged at work and only half plan to be with their companies in a year.

A digital workplace is imperative for this generation, for whom the modern consumer experience has created expectations which often go unmet by the tools their employers provide. But there is a right way to go about digitizing your employee experience.

It starts with thinking holistically. That means stepping away from the focus on technology. Resist the temptation to load workers with tools without thinking strategically about what employees need most and how to keep your people at the center. Digital workplace initiatives cause a significant change to employers’ core processes, roles, skills, culture and behaviors. We have seen digital workplace implementations fail when employers don’t approach such initiatives with a human-centered design and change management strategy.

Here are the most common mistakes we’ve seen and our guidance on how to avoid them in your digital transformation.

1. Focusing on Technology and Not the Humans the Tools Are For

Technologists struggle to know when to recommend new tools amid the lightning-fast iteration of new options. Most enterprise technology suites add new features every few weeks. Without a crystal-clear business purpose for the tools you select, you risk losing employees’ engagement in a gyre of competing use cases for different tools. Digital workplace initiatives fall short or fail due to a lack of vision and strategy in planning them. A strategic foundation, based on an outside-in focus, is necessary to realize the business value of your efforts in the workplace.

2. Thinking of the Workplace as One Place

Even tech-savvy companies neglect this aspect of employees’ digital expectations. Remote and mobile employees need access to more than documents. They must be able to view and approve forms, collaborate with colleagues, and join online meetings on any device, in any location with an internet connection.

Increasingly, employers see that allowing remote work and empowering mobile employees is good for talent acquisition and retention, morale and productivity. Information-technology leaders still balk at supporting mobile because of security, network requirements, antiquated technology or other obstacles. That hesitation can significantly inhibit employees’ adoption of new tools.

To truly fulfill employee expectations, it’s critical to include an identity management and security strategy in your digital transformation plan. That includes a thoughtful assessment of mobile application functionality and effectively designing the mobile, identity management and security experience across platforms. The same agile development methodology and human-centered focus can create an integrated mobile experience that enables employees to be as engaged when they are on the go as when they are in the office. A good example of this is Microsoft’s latest offering in this space, Microsoft Teams, which capitalizes on bringing all facets of an organization’s digital workplace into one place, with strong mobile support.

3. Weak Change-Management Strategy

By focusing too narrowly on the technology of a digital workplace, change management often gets neglected. Beginning a digital transformation without defining success and how you will measure it will doom even the most technically perfect implementation of digital tools.

And it’s an understandable oversight: because many digital workplace tools don’t drive direct revenue, measurement is a real challenge. Teams can feel hesitant around measuring areas where they suspect to learn they are falling short, and we help turn that discomfort into a conversation about the company’s values and open a route to engagement.

It’s crucial to find or establish appropriate performance indicators upfront and have the willingness to measure them and then re-measure to assess progress. To effectively manage change with digital workplace initiatives, organizations should define a change management strategy that focuses on a vision and value definition, leadership engagement, communication, organization alignment, training and support and change readiness.

The multifaceted work of creating a digital workplace that meets the needs of many generations is absolutely critical to thriving in a digital future. The good news is that being strategic, agile and human-centered can equip organizations to meet these challenging needs and expectations to win at attracting, maintaining and growing an effective, digitally-enabled workforce.

This article originally appeared on CMSWire.com.

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