Digital Savviness: Why HR Teams Must Upskill the Workforce

In the coming years, digital savviness will become more and more important, which is why HR teams must focus on upskilling their workforce as soon as possible.

Many research firms and experts have concluded that there is a shortage of digital skills in the global talent pool. 

In part, this is due to rapid innovation and the continual adoption of new technology by organizations.

However, another contributing factor is organizations’ failure to provide adequate training for their workers.

Businesses, of course, are not to blame – the world we live in is so fast-paced that it is very difficult to keep up with the changing environment, let alone innovate and push ahead of the marketplace.

To compound these issues, the outbreak of COVID-19 accelerated digital transformation in many areas, from telehealth to remote working to robotics.

In order to help their organizations succeed, HR should embrace and adapt to these changes by cultivating a digitally savvy workforce.

Why Digital Savviness and Skills Should Be a Priority for HR Teams

Even prior to 2020, digital skills were lacking in many organizations.

In PwC’s 22nd annual CEO survey, for instance, found that CEOs desired a skilled workforce, one third were “extremely concerned” about the availability of key skills. 

Among those CEOs:

  • 55% felt the skills gap negatively impacted innovation
  • 52% claimed that people costs were rising unexpectedly
  • 47% stated that their quality standards and/or customer experience were impacted

These represented only a few of the several problems associated with an unskilled workforce.

When asked about how to solve this, a few solutions predominated:

  • Establishing a strong pipeline directly from education
  • Changing the composition of the workforce from permanent to contingent
  • Hiring from competitors
  • Hiring from outside one’s own industry
  • Significant retraining and upskilling

This last solution was by far the most common, earning nearly half of the global respondents’ votes – and this choice makes sense, since training in-house employees helps to create a loyal workforce, a better organizational culture, and a better employee experience.

A workforce that experiences high turnover or is composed of contingent workers, on the other hand, can make it more difficult to improve the employee experience and cultivate a desired culture.

Below, we’ll examine this last solution in more detail and explore how to help employees become more digitally skilled and savvy.

How to Create a Digitally Savvy Workforce

As mentioned above, a digitally savvy workforce will be more productive, improve an organization’s ability to innovate, enhance the customer experience, and more.

Here are a few tips for HR departments that recognize the value of digital training and want to improve their employees’ digital capabilities:

Use digital adoption platforms to onboard and train employees

Today, businesses implement new software on a regular basis.

While new software tools promise a great deal of value to their client organizations, realizing that value is another matter entirely.

As we saw above, employees who lack the right digital skills will be unable to fully utilize those new digital tools – and, as a result, the organization won’t realize the full value of its software investments.

For this reason, it is important to properly onboard and train employees.

HR can help solve this problem with a digital adoption platform (DAP).

These platforms:

  • Offer contextualized, in-app training that simplify the software experience
  • Increase digital engagement, digital savviness, and overall proficiency levels
  • Automate and streamline digital onboarding and training
  • Accelerate time-to-competency and time-to-productivity
  • Reduce software-related frustration and improve the digital workplace experience

When combined with a goal-oriented digital adoption strategy, a digital adoption platform can significantly improve a workforce’s overall digital skills, enhancing both the workplace and organizational performance.

Develop a goal-oriented training strategy

Business leaders are more likely to back a new program if they can see its actual impact on the organization.

An employee training program will be considered more valuable, therefore, if HR managers can demonstrate its positive impact on employee performance.

To do that, follow steps such as these:

  • Establish clear goals and measurable objectives for the program
  • Tie those goals to achievable aims, such as improved employee performance, decreased training time, and so forth
  • Use metrics and KPIs that are linked to these goals
  • Monitor, measure, and improve

An approach such as this will help HR teams better understand the actual value of their training efforts and its impact on the workforce. And, just as importantly, it will allow them to demonstrate that value to business leaders.

Create an employee experience management program

The employee experience represents more than just an employee’s feelings about their workplace or the climate of the work environment.

According to Gallup, it represents the sum of interactions an employee has with their employer across the entire employee life cycle, from pre-hire communications to post-exit surveys.

This life cycle includes stages such as:

  • Hire
  • Engage
  • Train
  • Develop

Each of these stages will impact employees’ sentiment towards the organization, how engaged they are, and ultimately their performance in the workplace.

Though research demonstrates that employee engagement affects productivity, the employee experience extends its purview further, by defining metrics and goals for each stage of the employee journey.

Establishing core metrics and goals can provide a solid, performance-oriented direction for an employee experience program.

Though many organizations are beginning to recognize the value of the employee experience, the digital employee experience often remains unnoticed – despite the fact that knowledge workers spend the vast majority of their time working with digital tools.

There are a number of ways to improve the digital side of the employee experience, such as:

  • Utilizing digital training software that simplifies the digital experience
  • Providing remote workers with training, support, and counseling that is specifically tailored to the remote work environment
  • Create a separate digital employee experience program, focusing on digital onboarding, digital training, and digital engagement

In short, by improving digital engagement and the digital employee experience, workers will be happier, more engaged, and more productive.

Also, and just as importantly, they will feel more “at home” in the digital workplace, which will make it easier to cultivate a digitally savvy workforce.

Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.