The past decade has seen some phenomenal developments for workplace technology like mobile apps, automation and cloud computing. And yet, these innovations may not be making as big an impact on company bottom lines as you'd expect. The problem could be that workforces are simply not integrating new technology quickly enough into how they do their jobs.
If you're trying to figure out how to increase the productivity of employees in the digital age, these tips can help you get more out of your current workforce.
1. Make the proper investment.
In order to benefit from new technology, you need to put your money where your mouth is. If your employees are using out-of-date computers that crash when they try to run new software, it's hard to justify that you're really committed to innovation.
As part of your move to utilize technology more quickly, consider upgrading your office, equipment and other infrastructure. This is one of the top business strategies to focus on when times are good. If you need help financing the purchase, a small-business loan or your business credit card can get you the funds you need.
2. Carefully research areas of improvement for employees.
When you review new technology, don't just focus on the impressive functions during the demo. You should also consider whether each tool is intuitive and easy-to-learn, especially in the context of a busy workday. If employees need to read through a giant user's manual to understand a new piece of software, chances are they won't be in a hurry to use it.
Before making a purchase, reach out to workers in different departments for a trial run as well. That way you can get their feedback on how to improve employee performance and whether a new tool is truly something that will make a difference. More importantly, when you get this department approval, you can feel confident that the rest of your workers will adapt to the change as well.
3. Clearly demonstrate the value.
People are busy enough during the workweek and change can feel uncomfortable. To get your staff to truly buy in with new technology, you need to clearly show how they and the organization will benefit from the effort.
For example, if you want employees to use email automation software to reply to non-urgent messages, you could use a case study showing how many hours an employee will save per week, so they don't have to catch up on email at night or during the weekend. That way they'll have a clear motivation to make the switch.
4. Develop a learning culture.
If you're serious about upskilling your workforce, make that a part of their work responsibilities. Explain that you're not only looking for staff to learn how to improve employee performance today, but also for the future.
Hold regular training sessions and lunch and learns to cover any new technology. You should also give employees some time during the week to experiment and get comfortable with the tools.
5. Offer incentives and motivation.
Some workers are early adopters of tech and will gladly try something new. But others are more set in their ways and will need extra motivation. Whenever you see someone putting the new technology to good use, make sure to praise them for their efforts. This can keep them going when they get frustrated later.
Beyond that, consider offering bonuses and even future promotions based whether employees move to the recommended technology. If you believe a new system will truly improve productivity and profits for the long-term, then it's worth offering employees financial incentives to do so.
6. Track results.
As workers start migrating to different approaches, be sure to track data to see what's working well and what's not. Pick a measurement that will show whether you're seeing increased employee productivity from the new tool, like a higher lead conversion rate or improved customer service. Are you getting results from the switch or is something off?
To get your staff to truly buy in with new technology, you need to clearly show how they and the organization will benefit from the effort.
Be sure to survey employees too about their experience to see what they like and don't like about the technology. If a launch isn't leading to the results you expected, be willing to adjust the approach based on employee feedback or even switch to something different.
7. Accept that it takes time.
Ultimately, the reason some businesses have been slow to adapt new technology is because it's difficult. Upskilling the workforce takes time, training and patience. Expect that some of your staff will be reluctant to do their jobs in a new way and there will be pushback, and that some investments won't work as well as you hoped, and you'll need to drop some tools.
But keep up with your search for areas of improvement for employees because the potential is out there. By putting in this work, you can gain the technology productivity edge your competitors are missing out on.
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