Why transformational change management depends on the digital employee experience

Business software change is always tricky. The switch to a new process or application will usually involve significant investment, from the cost of the new technology to the time and effort spent by an organization to get it in place.

But it doesn’t stop simply with installing software. With more and more applications being used to assist the working day, processes should be simpler, faster and more efficient. However, without the right approach, introducing different software and different routes to support can create a more complex digital environment for employees. And this is only exaggerated when remote work is thrown into the mix.

In fact, in our Hidden Cost of the Digital Employee Experience report, we revealed that 21% of employees are more frustrated with business applications now than they were pre-pandemic. We also found 39% spent 30 minutes a day just looking for support. For large businesses in the US, this could be totting up to 172,091 hours lost per year.

It’s clear that the digital employee experience is not sitting front and center of digital change, and as new software and applications are added to the tech stack, it’s having consequences for productivity, time and that all important ROI. What might be behind the lack of focus on digital employee experience? Often, it comes down to the mindset that businesses take towards change.

When change is seen as purely tactical rather than transformational, you’re far less likely to see the results you set out to achieve when introducing new tech. The key is knowing what transformational change actually looks like. We’ll explore this, and how to achieve it, in this blog.

The difference between tactical and transformational change

In our Rising to HR’s Digital Employee Experience Challenge webinar we explored using the digital workplace to improve employee satisfaction and keep one step ahead of competitors.

In the session, we spoke about how organizations are investing heavily in digital transformation projects, whether expanding use of existing applications or onboarding new technologies. If your organization is in a similar situation, you’ll of course want to make sure you’re getting real ROI on these investments. So, it’s important to make sure you manage software change effectively – and that starts with how you view the scale of your change.

You might assume the process would be relatively straightforward. Simply updating or replacing current technology with new or replacing a filing system with a cloud-based solution. Leading with technology in this way is known as tactical change.

It makes sense that businesses tend to think about software change in this way – after all, it is about bringing technology in line with the most current ways of working. But in doing so, you risk forgetting about the people that use this technology every day.

Remember the stat about how much time employees spend looking for support? When change is approached tactically, employees are often left behind, as they try to figure out how to use unfamiliar technology.

So, how can you approach change management in a way that drives results while keeping the digital employee experience at the heart?

Transformational change is all about thinking holistically. This means not only considering what the change will look like once it’s implemented, but equipping people with the tools needed to prepare for it. It’s about defining how we’re going to focus on people’s adoption of the solution, in the long run.

Jimmy Barton, an organizational change & training manager at Collaborative Solutions, joined our webinar and highlighted how digital adoption is one of the truest measures of success. So how do you do this?

Webinar preview

Rising to the Digital Employee Experience Challenge

See the full webinar here for more from Collaborative Solutions’ Jimmy Barton on tactical vs transformational change.

In short, by placing people and their experiences at the forefront of change management, you can ensure you drive the outcomes you set out to achieve. That means making sure people are brought along on the journey to implementing the change.

Focusing on transformational change in a software context means looking at true adoption of new technologies, the way people will interact with it, the training required and the support your organization will need throughout the switch.

How to achieve transformational change management

Approaching change management through a transformational lens – in other words, by focusing on the digital employee experience – will set you up for success. And to help you do this, we’ve broken it down into six key steps which we go into more detail on in our Definitive Guide to Software & IT Change Management.

Of course, looking at digital employee experience isn’t the only way to achieve change management success. You still need to think about the wider digital adoption strategy. But even so, it’s important to keep the following steps in mind:

  1. Communicate the change – A switch in software or processes will undoubtedly affect your people. Make sure you communicate any changes before this switch, from what it involves, how your change management program is expected to unfold, where and how training on the new software will be delivered, and where they can go to with any additional questions.
  2. Promote a culture of embracing change – As well as readying your team for a change in software use, you want them to be open to the switch. Embracing transformational change in this manner requires an organization-wide effort, and you can affect culture shifts by showing teams the impact your change management program will have on their day-to-day, for the better.
  3. Set clear goals on expected behaviors – How do you want people’s day-to-day activities to change as a result of the switch? It might be saving time using certain applications or accessing IT support. To set these goals up for success, make sure you communicate shifts in behaviors as a result of the new software to your teams.
  4. Share best practice – As well as training on how to use the new software, make sure you share specific best practice examples. Perhaps it’s a video or specific instructional guide for certain processes. Consider nominating particular people to be ‘best practice’ champions, and work with them to roll out examples across the wider organization.
  5. Train on new software (and don’t stop) – Don’t assume any knowledge when it comes to use of new software – ‘over prepare’ people with training on how to get to grips with the change. And don’t fall into a ‘one and done’ trap. If people will be using these new systems for the long-term, offer ongoing, regular training and support, tailored to their needs.
  6. Deliver associated skills training – Will your new software require people to learn new skills to execute tasks well? Look beyond training on the new systems itself and consider if you need to offer ‘associated’ skills training.

Of course, even with these six steps in mind, there isn’t necessarily a ‘one-size-fits-all approach’ when it comes to transformational change management. It should be entirely shaped around your organization’s people, software needs, goals, knowledge and training.

That said, approaching change management with this mindset, and putting the digital employee experience at the center, will set you up for greater long-term success.

Insight by

Daniel Gripton

Insight by

Daniel Gripton