guest post by Charley Sunday, creator of astrongfoundation.net
Technology is transforming every industry under the sun, from legal to healthcare and everything in between. You may have heard of the buzzwords: automation, the Internet of Things (IoT), AI and machine learning, Big Data, ChatGPT, and hybrid or remote work. While this is a blessing, there are some side effects – human workers being displaced, made redundant, or feeling undervalued due to changes to work processes and jobs in general. What are the benefits and drawbacks of digital transformation? How you can make employees feel more valued during these times of change?
Salesforce notes that digital transformation is the use of computer-based technology to upgrade work processes. The biggest benefits of digital transformation are improved efficiency, extra value, opportunities for innovation, and the reduction of labor-intensive work processes.
The biggest drawback – besides the added complexity, overheads, and data security concerns – are the negative effects on human workers. According to a Turbo Future, technology can cause a social disconnect, work overload, privacy problems, addiction, secondhand living, and job insecurity. Many employees working fully remotely also report psychological problems.
Value Employees More Through Concrete Action
Your workers may be experiencing some or all of the problems we mentioned above. You’ll have to take concrete action to reduce the ill effects and make life better for your employees. Here are some suggestions:
Provide More Social Interaction
Sitting behind screens all day or working from a digital office remotely doesn’t always offer many opportunities for social interaction, which can lead to feelings of alienation, loneliness, and segmentation between teams and departments. Social interaction – through game nights, ice breakers, meetings, and meet-ups (offline or online) – can make employees feel more connected to other people (and your organization in general).
Give and Receive Feedback
Nothing makes people happier than knowing their work is making a difference. It’s icing on the cake if their concerns are being heard and, even better, acted upon. You can do both by instituting, as Forbes puts it, a “feedback-rich” culture in your company. This is when feedback is encouraged between all members of the organization and, typically, a unified platform for communication is offered where team members can communicate in a safe environment.
Support Your Remote Workers’ Mental Health
Remote workers are more prone to experiencing mental health issues such as burnout, anxiety, and depression. Employers can offer mental health support through training sessions or sponsoring psychologist visits. Also some other strategies are providing flexible schedules, offering in-person work opportunities, promoting work-life balance, and checking up on employees from time to time.
Provide a Stellar Benefits Package
There are some employee benefits that you are required to provide, like social security, worker’s compensation, and FMLA coverage. However, going above these basic benefits can show your employees how much you value them and want them to be happy and healthy. Health insurance and paid time off are the bare minimum of non-required benefits, and not including them usually turns employees off. But adding additional perks, like life insurance, tuition reimbursement, and child care can go a long way in employee happiness.
Inform and Acquire Buy-In Before Rolling Out Technology
It’s human nature to feel threatened by the unknown. One of the best ways to make workers more comfortable with technology is to inform them of upcoming technology-related changes or improvements coming in well in advance. Preferably, you could accompany this with reassurances about how it wouldn’t affect their work. This would make your workers happier and less resistant to changes.
Explain the Benefits of Each New Technology
Technology is taking away some jobs, but it is also creating new possibilities. You can help your employees feel more secure by training them in the use of new technologies and showing them how these new tools can help them be better at – and not be replaced in – their jobs. Consider providing training to help them learn in-house tools or sponsoring educational learning programs externally. Here are a few new technology areas that your employees may learn to embrace with a little explanation and training.
Some technologies can directly benefit workers, such as process intelligence. Process intelligence is key to automating and optimizing certain work processes. This reduces employee workload, leaving them free to focus on valuable tasks instead of “grunt” work. Not only will your employees be more engaged, but process intelligence can also improve work efficiency, eliminate errors, and benefit your business’s balance sheet.
The news of AI generated writing has disrupted a lot of work and educational environments. Your employees may be aware of these developments and both the benefits and risks involved in adopting them. If you choose to embrace ChatGPT, explain to your employees how it can benefit them in their roles.
For example, editors can use it to generate ideas that they then revise, polish, and shape. Or customer service reps can use it to answer difficult questions. By explaining how ChatGPT can help your employees, you will cultivate trust and respect, and your employees will be less likely to reject these new technologies.
Be Proactive for Happier Employees
Regardless of the strides technology has made, employees are indispensable and remain the company’s biggest asset. When they’re feeling left out in the cold, morale suffers, productivity tanks, and turnover rises. Business leaders need to actively value employees more to mitigate these issues. And if you plan to implement new technology, whether it’s using process intelligence or ChatGPT, talk to your employees about why you are adopting them and how they can benefit your entire workforce. The result will be a happier, unified workforce and, consequently, a more productive business.
Image via Unsplash
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