Is your company talking about digital transformation? You’re not alone. Over the next few years, organizations and industries around the world will be investing millions of dollars to transform themselves for the digital economy.
Estée Lauder is a good example. The cosmetic giant recently adopted a “digital first” approach, which involved: recruiting social media influencers to create digital-only content; making beauty consultants available to chat with customers on Facebook; and offering virtual reality makeup tests. This approach has helped increase the company’s share price 60 percent in the past 12 months.
Not all companies, however, are as successful. According to consulting firm Mckinsey, ROI from digital investments have been somewhat uneven, with companies often investing in the wrong places. So, the question is, where do you invest? Digital talent seems like a safe bet, but the competition for talent is set to become much fiercer. In fact, Mckinsey believes that demand will far outstrip supply, especially when it comes to data professionals, with demand 50 to 60 percent greater than the projected supply.
An effective way to counter this is to provide digital skills training for existing employees. Here too, Estée Lauder has proven to be a good example; they have sent teams to BrainStation for corporate digital skills training courses. They’re not the only one. BrainStation has actually provided similar corporate training to companies as varied as CIBC, lululemon, Budweiser, and the LCBO, among many others. In fact, to meet increasing demand, we’re now offering accelerated corporate training, with concise, immersive one-week courses designed to increase digital competency of entire teams — in as short a time frame as possible.
These organizations have understood the impact employee training can have on digital transformation efforts. Here are some reasons why it can make such a difference.
It can create the right culture for digital transformation
If the goal is to transform your company, you will need an engaged workforce, ready and willing to make changes. The problem is, you most likely won’t have that. According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace, only 32 percent of workers felt engaged in their jobs in 2015. Add in digital transformation, and the numbers are more alarming. According to a study commissioned by Microsoft:
- 49 percent of employees fear change when digital transformation initiatives are introduced
- 59 percent are concerned about job security where tasks are automated
- 39 percent feel anxious at the introduction of new technology
This shouldn’t be too surprising given the unknowns involved with digital transformations. According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, people are at their best when they are both challenged and highly skilled. If, however, the challenge facing them is higher than their skill level, they will feel anxious and ultimately apathetic; a bad mix when it comes to company culture.
The Microsoft study singled this out as a major challenge, and said only only 23 percent of companies implementing digital transformation measures were doing something to address it. Here’s what they suggested to right the ship:
- Emphasizing the collaborative potential of new digital technologies
- Acknowledging the anxiety that change can cause and providing support
- Allowing people to experience new technologies themselves
- Making it clear how new digital technologies should fit within your environment
- Establishing a forward-thinking culture of continuous improvement and innovation
Regular digital skills training can help address each of these suggestions, demystifying new technology for employees, empowering them with skills and experience, and establishing a company mindset that is ready and willing to learn new ideas and techniques.
All of this should also have an impact on employee motivation. In his book, Business Execution for Results, author Stephen Lynch writes: “People want to grow, develop, and make progress. If you arrange their work so that they can do that, even a little bit every day, they are more likely to become motivated.”
Employee training can help the bottom line
It might seem counterintuitive, but the more willing you are to provide your employees with skills training opportunities, the more money you’ll make. According to The American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), companies that offer comprehensive training have:
- 218 percent higher income per employee than those with less training
- A 24 percent higher profit margin
- A 6 percent higher shareholder return
One potential reason for this, apart from the aforementioned impact on employee morale and corporate culture, is that companies that provide employee training tend to be more productive. According to a study by the National Center on the Educational Quality of the Workforce, a 10 percent increase in educational development produced an 8.6 percent gain in productivity.
It can help with future recruitment
Millennials and Generation Z (they’re coming!) know full well just how competitive the digital economy is, and how quickly technology can change. Unsurprisingly, they also are the generations that see the most value in training opportunities. In a survey by PwC, millennials listed opportunities for training and development as the third most important thing when considering what company to work for.
With the increasing competition for talent, and a greater need for digital competency across the board, whoever can attract these more tech-savvy job seekers will have a major advantage going forward…and isn’t that what it’s all about?