How to Help Employees Adapt to Digital Transformation

Technology continues to play a greater role in the success of business across all industries. One of the most crucial but highly overlooked factors in the success of digital transformation is people. The success of digital transformation hinges on training your employees on new changes and tools.

During these unprecedented times, transformation is happening very fast, and leaders need to empower employees with skills. Digital implementation should include all business units, persons, and processes within the enterprise. Here are 4 ways to help you with that.

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1. Create a Dialogue

There was a time when IT was just about fixing stuff, but now everyone is a co-designer. For this reason, you need to create a dialogue and collaborative environment. It’s a fact that most employees tend to resist change whenever one forces it on them. Having this in mind, create a collaborative dialogue with your employees for discussions.

With dialogue, business leaders can actively inquire about employee’s preferences in terms of digital transformation. The collaborative discussion should start at the top then involve all employees at different levels. The leadership at all levels needs to be at the forefront of the digital change championship to foster widespread adoption. Dialogue also creates a collaborative work environment instead of competing.

Digital implementations should also take into account the workplace culture. The leadership should constantly seek employee’s feedback throughout the process.

Unfortunately, dialogue is only possible if your employees feel comfortable sharing their concerns and opinions with their supervisors or top management, be it online or in-person. They should also have faith that their opinions will be considered as the company adopts a digital transformation action plan.

That said, use the following tips to promote an authentic dialogue with your employees;

  • Leverage one-on-one sessions – simple or rather baseless conversations are very powerful and can be impactful. Managers should interact with their employees every day, even if it is a simple good morning.
  • Always be there – break down the official in-office communications. Talk to your employees in neutral locations, be it at the cafeteria or the hallway. This lowers office pressure and makes it easy to connect.
  • Don’t duck ideas – providing immediate solutions or feedback to every employee’s idea is impossible. However, this means that you shouldn’t have the courtesy of responding. If you don’t like the idea, don’t duck it but rather recommend an alternative solution. By doing this, even if your answer won’t favor the employee, they will remember that you handled the issue respectfully.

2. Focus on Training

A recent survey by McKinsey Global indicated that 87% of executives have or expect a workforce skill gap in the next few years. Unfortunately, more than half of those executives have no clear strategy on how to deal with it. Leaders aiming for a successful digital implementation must identify skills required in the future.

When implementing a digital transformation, first, your employees need to understand why. As the leader, let your workforce understand the reasons for the digital change. Also, give them a clear picture of what the change represents and how it will improve their skills. Organizations seeking to win the digital race need to go further into cultivating a culture of change.

The change involves seeing obstacles and setbacks as integral to the overall success and dealing with failure quickly. The leaders should increase investment into quality training of current employees and acquisition of new skills. All employees from every level should get encouraged to undergo the training to drive adoption. Creating an agile skill development system will lead to mastery and reduce frustrations.

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3. Allow Experimentation

For many employees, any change in the work environment involves a change of habits. Most habits create a comfort zone that may increase resistance to changes such as digital transformation. Start by allowing and encourage experimentation to reduce resistance from employees who are new to the digital age. It will enable employees to try freely without getting afraid of any consequences of mistakes.

Furthermore, employees that experiment with new improvement often find new and faster ways to tackle everyday tasks. Additionally, experimentation increases efficiency and likely their overall productivity.

It also empowers departmental leaders to move quickly, try out new solutions and improve an existing process. Keep in mind that experimentation allows resource allocation in the transformation strategy to adjust over time. That includes an adaptive distribution of talent.

Remember that since experimentation involves trying new things to get better solutions, be prepared for mistakes, chaos, and errors before the potential change. As employees experiment, they challenge the status quo. If experimentation becomes successful, change is inevitable.

Therefore, recognizing the flipside or rather the dark side of experimentation is important. To make the most from experimentation, leaders should encourage, support, and improve it. Begin by experimenting with digital transformations yourself, welcome mistakes, develop clear goals, and reward employee efforts and success.

4. Improve Involvement of Employees

A successful digital transformation is easily achievable with an improved employee engagement. Digital advances allow your employees to reach customers with ease and give your business an edge against completion.

While older employees struggle to adapt to digital transformation, their experience and insight are valuable. Through improved employee involvement, the older employees can feel fulfilled and valued, hence, improved openness to change.

Although improved employee engagement drives adoption, the digital transformation itself can improve involvement. It’s no secret that technology can improve operational efficiency, but it can also improve your team’s engagement. In fact, a recent survey reported that 72% of its respondents think a flexible working schedule enhances employee engagement. With this digital era, implementing flexibility is much easier than before. Your employees can work from home with their devices using digital tools and interact with customers.

They are also likely to appreciate other benefits associated with digital transformation and adapt it very fast. Keep in mind that digital transformation is not just about tech. The structure of your company fulfills and encourages employees and prevents unfair dismissals. For this reason, invest in thorough training that will foster an amenable work culture that is quick to change.

5. Commit Company Executives to Technology Awareness

For your employees to embrace new technology, digital transformation should begin from the top. Company management should establish leadership programs aimed at equipping company executives with sufficient knowledge that the company needs to accelerate the adoption of digital innovations. That said, top management should introduce and participate in programs that enable the company to develop effective digital action plans.

Similarly, executives should develop behaviors that help employees embrace digital transformations, such as allowing intra- and inter-company partnering, permitting autonomous teams, and encouraging employee-awareness activities that promote technological change.


Digital transformation can alter competitive landscapes, deliver value to your consumers in radically new ways and change the entire market. It also fundamentally changes the talent and skills market. As things change, leaders need to drive solutions and innovations that allow employees participation during the transformation. That way, digital transformation can add value and accelerate growth for your business, customers, and employees.

Do remember that digital transformation is not easy. Research indicates that the success rate of digital transformation is less than 30%.

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