As more organisations move towards a fully integrated digital workplace it is important that you take your employees with you on the digital journey. If you want to be a digitally enabled business, you need to look beyond the investment in tools and make sure you are culturally ready as well.
The transition to a digital workplace isn’t an easy one, especially if you have been slow to embrace the digital revolution. There will be many employees that are wary of digital, and especially the speed at which things change.
It is important that you make your case for digital to your employees, so they can see and understand why the business is moving towards the change. There are many very good business reasons to look towards digital – including interactivity, collaboration, efficiency and cost.
When you are developing your digital story it is easy to look at components of it in isolation, such as social, without looking towards the wider picture. Digital encompasses much more than social, it is very much the front end interface for how businesses interact with employees and customers.
Some of the things to consider when developing your digital story include:
Our digital culture
What does your organisation want from digital? Whatever the answer is you need to make sure that you are clear with your employees about the behaviours the business needs to make digital work for you.
If you want a better connected, more collaborative workforce for example you need to make sure that you put collaborative behaviour at the heart of your culture, through your values. Digital can enable better collaboration, but it can’t replace the behaviour.
If you want digital to enable a world class customer service, you need to make sure that customer service is integrated into your culture and values.
It is easy to embrace digital solutions without considering the cultural aspect of what you want to achieve. Digital can act as an enabler for business but it will be employee behaviours that are the biggest influence in success or failure.
So it is important that you make the case for digital to your employees by joining up the dots on the cultural ambitions. There is a risk if not that employees will see digital as a ‘bolt on’ to existing workloads rejecting tools such as Yammer – for people to embrace the digital revolution you have got to build the cultural acceptance from the bottom up.
How the tools work
In modern society a lot of employees will use digital and social tools outside of the workplace. It might be social tools like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, or ecommerce like Amazon or eBay. The vast majority of employees will interact digitally through smartphones, tablets or electronic devices.
There is a dangerous assumption that as employees are also consumers, they will naturally translate digital behaviour and understanding to the workplace, but it isn’t quite that straightforward. There will be some employees that adopt digital straight away, others will be more cautious.
Part of the reason for that is the workplace is a very different place where a wrong word can create difficulty, but also the suite of tools in the workplace are far less intuitive for employees to decide what they are used for.
If you have an Intranet, Yammer, SharePoint, Lync and email in your business employees will quickly become confused about what tool should be used for what, so you have to help guide them.
There is a clear role for each of those tools in the workplace, but they all cut across communication, collaboration and knowledge sharing, so it’s important that employees understand the role they play and when and how to use them.
A good way to do this is through a simple video, where you can map a project out through its digital journey bringing in the tools to use at different points.
Digital opens up so much opportunity in business, but it is so fast paced that change is constant, and tools are always evolving. It’s a key part of your digital story to help guide employees through the journey so that they can adapt quickly and easily until eventually the instinct and behaviour becomes intuitive.
Don’t stand still
The digital landscape looks a lot different now than five years ago, and it will look very different in five years’ time. So when you are developing your digital story, keep a very keen eye on the future as well as the present. Help employees to understand what innovation looks like so that digital change becomes easier to manage.
The digital story for every business will be different, and it depends very much on both the culture, size and demographic on how to pitch it. But it is a story that needs to be told, the way the world interacts is changing, and it is changing in business as well.
There are sub plots to the digital story as well that all form part of the same narrative, social is now becoming a dominant influence, and you need to make sure your business is ready (see both building a social culture and hashtags as an Internal Communications tool). Digital security is another factor that is absolutely vital to your story.
Keep refreshing your digital story so that employees stay engaged with the journey, it isn’t a one off exercise; it is a journey that will move as your business evolves.
One of the difficulties in business is that because digital is so fast paced, there is rarely any clear ownership that captures all of the elements together. But, there is a very clear role for business communicators to help map out the digital journey for employees.
If you want to be a digitally enabled business, it will be your employees that make it happen, the investment in tools is only part of the revolution.
The updated Progressive IC book is now available in print via Lulu.com and as an eBook through PayPal and Amazon. It is packed full of hints and tips on Internal Communications, with a specific focus on social, digital and collaboration.