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Employee experience is key to digital transformation

“It is not enough that the board is excited. True transformation requires engagement from the entire personnel.”

This is what Kone’s former CEO Matti Alahuhta once stated when his organization was going through a period of transformation. Because the implementation of any change hinges on the staff, it is essential to get everyone to work for the shared goal. We live in an age of digital transformation, but this principle of engaging the personnel is now more acute than ever.

What does digital transformation mean from a business point of view? It gets embedded in a company’s everyday functions, overarching processes and long-term talent development. Each organization writes its own story of transformation.

In practice digital transformation is all about utilizing technology more efficiently and thus improving the agility and performance of the business. A fine example of this is the digitalization of financial management: when there is less pencil-pushing, there is more time and more resources for more productive and meaningful work.

Personnel as the driver for transformation

When a company embarks on a journey of transformation, it is most often the board who have drawn the travel plans. The top executives decide the route, the schedule and the means of transport – that is, the technology. But one crucial element is missing from this equation: the driver.

In essence, digital transformation is as old as the technology itself. What were the original reasons for utilizing new technologies? The thumb rule is that technology is meant to make lives easier. Its raison d’être is to free up resources so that the personnel have time and capacity to do something else.

Digital transformation itself does not necessarily lead to immediate gains in productivity. It is wise acknowledge that technology is not the driver for transformation, it is only an enabler. The driver is the company’s personnel.

Familiarize, develop, and lead by example

Successful digital transformation first requires a change in thinking, skill sets, and actions. These lead to a cultural evolution. Transformation in personnel is one of the most crucial steps towards well-executed digital transformation. But what are the steps towards transformation in personnel? And how can this transformation reach the entire organization?

  1. Familiarize yourself with your staff. Get to know your people, find out what motivates them, what their strengths are and what are their preferred methods for learning new things. You can utilize various surveys or other tools to seek answers. Knowledge of people helps you in planning your organization’s transformational journey and aids you in steering your personnel experience to a positive direction.
  2. Invest in developing new skills. Training people to develop skills in new areas is key to personnel management. It is important to organize recurring training programs that concentrate on the tools and know-how required in each role. Continuous training improves staff motivation because learning creates new excitement and acts as concrete proof that the employer is genuinely invested in its personnel’s career development.
  3. Lead by example. This old adage is still relevant in every situation. “Show – don’t tell!”

The staff takes care of the customer

Sir Richard Branson once said: “If you take care of your staff, they will take care of your customer.” This illustrates the reasons why personnel-led transformation works. For most companies, the customer is at the key of their strategy.

The crux of digital transformation lies in providing your staff with the equipment required to execute their work well, and in being ready to support them and help them develop. There is also a great synergy with this and a first-class personnel experience. And this in turn radiates to the customer: a happy staff will make the customer happy, too.

Poor employee experience can lead to poor customer experience and do real damage to a company’s chances to succeed in the market and respond to evolving demands.

People are as important as technology

Digital transformation is not a question of choice. It is a change that offers companies a chance to operate in a more agile way in the market and become more effective than their competitors.

Digital transformation can eat up endless hours of planning yet still fail at the execution phase if the personnel are skeptical of change. Successful transformation is all about the staff.

It sounds a little bit funny, but it is true: digital transformation is as much about the people as it is about technology.