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Industries with a considerable amount of frontline workers are often the ones late to implement innovative digital solutions due to the challenges with making process changes and concerns about adoption issues. The ease of using paper and ad hoc processes and the concern about worker pushback makes it difficult for leaders in these industries to adopt digital technologies despite the benefits. Even when there is an opportunity to positively impact safety and quality metrics, some companies will opt for the current state instead of embracing innovative changes.
Digital transformation is about implementing old processes in new ways that enable improvements well beyond the status quo. Optimization of processes can lead to improvements in productivity, quality and safety and more. Possibly the most important improvements are the positive shifts in workplace culture that may often be long overdue. These changes will result in significant improvements in worker engagement and dramatic improvement to the bottom line. Research indicates that for every dollar spent there is $2.30 worth of improved productivity for engaged workers. The Engagement Institute also found companies could lose upwards of $550 billion a year on disengaged workers. Here are some keys to navigating digital transformation:
Engaging Workers to Drive Digital Changes
Companies are hesitant to make big transformations to digital, but the apprehension doesn’t always come from the technology angle. Instead, the cultural and organizational shift that digital transformation brings can be daunting to navigate and the potential for worker pushback often causes companies to delay changes. In the past, CEOs or senior executives’ lack of interest was the main reason for the slow implementation of digital transformation, but recent studies by McKinsey found that 84 percent of CEOs want digital improvement. Concerns about frontline worker adoption of new processes and new technology is a major reason why companies stick with the status quo. However, only 45-58 percent of frontline workers are typically involved in the business transformation process, leaving them to wonder what’s happening or being surprised by changes that may not make sense for them. Engaging workers and identifying the proper solutions that keep frontline workers at the forefront of their technology are easy to use and provide value to their use of the tech will be critical to making positive impacts in the field.
Focus on Digital Safety Solutions
A major factor for aggressive digital change is leveraging solutions that help reduce worker injuries and deaths. According to OSHA, construction fatalities made up more than 20% of worker fatalities in private industry. These numbers are staggering and incentive enough for companies to spend more time and effort in implementing safety technologies into the daily business processes. This can include highly innovative technology-enabled wearables, cameras and sensors, and data collection from IoT frameworks to interpret the data for areas of improvement.
An easy way to drive digital transformation is to leverage technology every worker has with them every day – mobile devices. More than 81 percent of Americans have a smartphone and more than 96 percent of the younger workforce own smartphones and uses them every day. Using innovative mobile safety applications can help reduce the anxiety and pushback of digital changes because workers are already familiar with the technologies they use in every other aspect of their life. The results are fast adoption and a faster ROI for safety improvements by equipping workers with critical information and connectivity when they need it most and for the most important part of their jobs – safety.
Benefits of going digital
In addition to improvements in safety, depending on the type and breadth of the digital transformation, there are a variety of benefits that help companies and workers, including:
- Work efficiencies
- Tracking and implement continuous improvements
- Higher quality and reduction in costly errors
- Improved user experience for workers
- Ease of management and change adaptations
- Higher productivity
- Cost reductions
- Increased revenue
When applying digital transformation to safety, all of the above is true, but the bigger picture is focused on culture and engagement. Using workforce-first safety software can result in safety productivity programs and increased ROI due to worker engagement. According to a study by Axial, engaged employees are 40 times more likely to recommendtheir company as a great place to work and engaged teams also experienced a 48 percent decrease in injuries.
Building a strong safety culture starts with management and leadership engagement. Solutions like workforce focused safety software can help connect both leadership and frontline workers with real-time data that has historically been lagging. Focusing on the concept of now, managers have the ability to take relevant data and intervene at the earliest point and leverage current data to drive the desired outcomes. This keeps companies accountable and proactive with their employees rather than being reactive after an incident has already occurred – when it is too late. Driving this change will result in reductions of incidents, deaths, lost workdays, associated claims, and ultimately workers that feel valued and protected.
When companies are looking towards digital transformation and the steps needed to take action, it is critical for leaders to be clear and upfront about their plans and execution. As the world continues to evolve and adapt to new technologies every day, it is imperative that companies take the time to understand the impact of those tools and how their capabilities will affect their organization and employees. Instead of reacting to new tools and rolling out advancements all at once, leaders will be more successful in setting the foundation of change and why it is needed in order to prepare their workforce on the future of the work environment. Most importantly managers need to involve the frontline workforce in the overall process and give them a voice.
The whole process starts with inspired and engaged employees who understand and are willing to work with the digital processes. When workers are able to grasp the concept and benefits of digital transformation, they will, in turn, be able to contribute to a more effective workplace. Worker happiness translates to happy customers and a more efficient and safer work environment. Digital is the means to propel a company to its goal, but the transformation is an enterprise-wide movement with a priority on the people.
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