You can’t separate technology from your people’s experience and what motivates them
Technology is now such a central part of the overall work experience that you can’t separate it from the people agenda. To manage both, look to the promise of new technology and consider what motivates people to adopt new ways of working with tech. It can’t be one or the other. The goal is to get beyond titles and delve into attitudes and behaviors. That’s the approach that leads to more relevant communication, rewards and performance and development. Automation will put even more focus on understanding how to create great places for people to work because it will impact just about everyone’s role, job content and decision rights. Today’s workforce is overwhelmingly positive about the potential for technology to improve their lives in our survey, but they also have concerns about how it can be used. When asked if artificial intelligence is making the world a better place, for example, 88% of the C-suite agreed—but only 48% of staff agreed. Understand why this gap exists between your leaders and your employees and work to alleviate those worries.
Understand what it’s like to do the job
It’s becoming more common to analyze process efficiency with data analytics, but you should also seek to understand what it’s like to do work through the lens of the employee. Start by defining different worker personas for the processes that matter most and get feedback from employees on what it’s like to do the work. Understand an employee’s daily journey, their day-to-day routines and touchpoints so you can help define how technology can support a better work experience, rather than simply create extra overhead. For instance, where are workers most often when they perform a given transaction—are they at home, in the office, at their desks, on the road, on the shop floor or with a customer? How much time should things take? Use those insights to fuel your approach and get continual feedback as your processes evolve.
Rethink who belongs in the room when making decisions
For starters, choose people from a range of levels and departments across the company to play roles in the planning, selection and design of technology tools. Focus groups, feedback mechanisms, employee surveys and other methods of giving people a voice can help leaders make more people-focused tech decisions and fuel employee buy-in and interest in tech at work.
Informal leaders may also serve as a bridge between leaders and those at lower levels of the organization. These employees, who may not hold an official leadership role but who have a ground-level view of the organization’s cultural reality, can offer insight into what front-line employees want and expect from technology at work. Informal leaders can be a powerful force in accelerating the culture and behavior changes that are essential to any successful tech-led transformation. As one managing director of a furniture supply company in Germany told PwC, “We did not consider that cultural change is needed (and) that takes longer than introducing new software.” Your staff's perspective may be very different from yours, helping you to identify and address obstacles to tech adoption.
Upskilling is not traditional training—change your mind-set
In our survey, 84% of people say they do their work because they want to learn new things. But there’s a clear disconnect between the amount of time they’re willing to spend on training, and what will actually be required to keep up in an era in which they are likely to need to retool skills as job requirements change. Address that disconnect by emphasizing the urgency of adopting a continual learning mind-set—why it’s important to the organization as well as to them personally. Then, support your employees through real-time coaching and feedback so they understand where to focus their development, and help them build learning into their job. Upskilling isn’t just about completing courses or adding new tools; it’s also about giving people opportunities to explore new mind-sets, behaviors, relationships and ways of working. The more organizations support their workforce in becoming digitally savvy, the greater the likelihood that decision-makers will stop thinking about how specific technologies will be transformative and instead focus on changing the ways people work.
And, since many employees don’t feel their company offers enough ways to learn, look for more options, especially those that let employees choose a learning style that works for them. That may mean thinking outside the conventional models of training and development and expanding what qualifies as “training,” such as microlearning or ad hoc online courses. Finally, consider incentives for learning beyond paying people to complete training. Among the possibilities: special recognition and additional opportunities that will expose people to new thinking.