Digital transformation is hot at the moment as companies look for new business models to see off the rivals disrupting their industries. But a growing body of research shows that most transformation projects are doomed to failure. One recent study found that nine out of 10 digital transformation projects do not live up to expectations.
The engagement factor
Lack of resources and out-dated legacy systems are widely blamed for this high failure rate. But it’s the human factor that really makes or breaks a transformation project. People often find it difficult to deal with change – any sort of change - in the workplace. Add new technologies to the mix and the whole change effort can hit trouble. Some people may not understand the point of the transformation, while others will lack the skills the business now needs.
Artificial intelligence (AI), automation and other digital technologies are also likely to make employees feel anxious about their job security. As Professor Marko Kesti, Adjunct Professor, HRM-Performance at the University of Lapland says: ‘Every time you invest in improving business processes you reduce the quality of employee engagement and their working lives.’
That’s a big problem, especially in service sector businesses that rely on the knowledge, skills and – most of all – employee engagement.
Threats and opportunities
Business leaders are well aware that digital transformation can be unsettling for employees with ‘speed of technological change’ and ‘availability of key skills’ among the top 10 threats facing businesses in 2018. Yet as PwC also points out, business leaders who ‘take this opportunity and have the foresight to embrace digital transformation will be greatly rewarded.’
Measure, measure and measure again
So how can your company leverage the power of digital technology, while still keeping employee engagement high? The answer lies in listening to them and monitoring the quality of their working lives.
Before launching a transformation project, you need to measure existing levels of employee engagement, recognising that these are likely to be different in different parts of the organisation. Then, as you start to implement change, measure the impact on people and the quality of their working life. Do that at every stage of the transformation. If you find that people are struggling with any aspect of the project, you will need to take steps to improve their situation, before measuring the impact of these improvement activities.
That may sound like an awful lot of measuring, but it needn’t take up too much time or effort. There’s an online tool that does all the work for you: The Quality of Work Life (QWL) Index.
Why use the QWL employee engagement survey methods?
Developed by Professor Kesti and VibeCatch, the QWL employee engagement survey collects anonymous feedback from employees automatically and as frequently as you want it to. Unlike most other employee engagement surveys, it doesn’t just tell you what’s wrong, but recommends the actions needed to fix problems before they escalate and start derailing your transformation project.
If your company is setting out on a digital journey, use the scientifically proven QWL employee engagement survey method to measure the quality of employees’ working lives. This will enable you to spot and remove any roadblocks along the way, and help you achieve a much quicker return on investment in digital technology than you could otherwise expect.
And then, who knows? The next company to disrupt a whole industry could be yours.