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Digital transformation and the workplace

Can you really afford to keep doing the same old newsletters and emails that no-one is reading or interested in? An engaged workforce is a loyal one

A perfect storm has arrived, and it’s already shaking enterprise infrastructure to its very core. Many organisations are already experiencing challenges with brand reputation and employee retention, but with a disparate workforce, businesses are realising that it’s time to evolve many of their practices like never before.

In a recent report, Reimagining Workplace Services, Everest Group, highlighted that 68% of large enterprises believe that a majority of employees will be mobile and not bound by an office space by 2021. Furthermore, by 2025, more than 75% of the global workplace will comprise of Millennials, with many of them in influential decision-making roles.

There are many drivers pushing businesses towards this transformation. Flexible and remote working is now being widely adopted in organisations. This isn’t just to increase cost effectiveness but is also an effort to make the workplace more flexible and appealing to employees.

That along with the advances in technology mean that both software and hardware are affordable and a lot easier to use. The proliferation of devices and apps means that businesses can now communicate with their workforces wherever they are. And then, there’s the question: how should companies interact with their employees. For example, Millennials and Generation Z are not afraid to use new technologies available to them. Whereas for baby boomers, new tools can often seem alien or an unnecessary departure from the way they’ve always worked.

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Millennials and Generation Z grew up on their mobile phones, a lifestyle that has resulted in shorter attention spans and a need for speed. As a result, it’s now critical that any communications should focus on being short-form geared explicitly for that audience. The way Millennials and Generation Z consume information is fundamentally different and organisations are increasingly rushing toward consumer-like technologies – think new mobile platforms, video updates, Twitter-esque feeds and collaboration tools rather than SharePoint – that can deliver this type of bite-sized, relevant content. If companies are going to attract and retain their new workforce, they need to think more like them.

Similarly, organisations mustn’t forget the older members of the workforce who may prefer a more traditional approach such as newsletters via email. By embracing digital transformation in the workplace, businesses can empower their people, drive information seamlessly, measure engagement and end-user experience all while providing information (critical or otherwise) in a way that each employee prefers. New platforms can deliver content via any channel (email, phone app, browser, digital signage, etc.) based on the preferences of a user – the holy grail of the right content to the right device at the right time.

Content should be bite-sized and varied. A recent survey carried out by SocialChorus highlights that employees use their company app for around two minutes at a time. That doesn’t necessarily mean the content should be shorter, but it does need to be broken up with headlines, photos, links and other content that is easy to scan or read on smaller screens.

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All of these elements are merging and disrupting the fragmented and inward-facing tech set up of traditional enterprises. If businesses want to retain talent and attract customers, they are going to have to think about how they react to this age of digital transformation. Organisations will be forced to solve the challenge of better reaching, connecting and engaging with their employees. “Every worker matters” will become the new mantra as companies tap new technologies and strategies aimed squarely at giving the deskless worker a voice.

Key departments within companies will have to collaborate more than they have ever done before – HR, IT and Comms. They need to remember that a ‘one-size-fits-all’ strategy does not work and this applies just as much to internal communications as it does to their customers. They can no longer afford to be indifferent to the individual needs of their employees. In today’s decentralised business landscape, these three disciplines need to work together to deliver personalised communications that are device agnostic and meaningful. Research by the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) showed that by using social technologies, companies could raise the productivity of knowledge workers by 20% – 25%. It also found that the technologies which create value by improving productivity across the value chain could potentially contribute $900 billion to $1.3 trillion in annual value across four commercial sectors: consumer packaged goods, retail financial services, advanced manufacturing, and professional services. Creating a greater affiliation between employee and company leads to less staff turnover and increased employee satisfaction. Not to mention more informed employees.

Companies thrive and win when their workers feel informed, valued, and engaged. The technology and the devices now exist to drive employee engagement and help both the business and people, who are the driving force, to flourish. Now is the time for businesses to ask themselves whether they are ready to evolve alongside their workforce. After all, an engaged workforce is not only a loyal one but also a more productive one too.

Written by Cyrus Gilbert-Rolfe, MD, EMEA, SocialChorus

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