Implement technological changes with substantial business impact by pairing them with digital dexterity initiatives.
When pandemic restrictions came into effect in March 2020, most companies responded by implementing remote work and streamlined operations. Hiring freezes, layoffs, and promotion delays were commonplace in the days before vaccines became widely available.
Despite this environment, employee-oriented digital technologies remained the one area where enterprises consistently increased spending. The realities of remote work demanded investment in time attendance software, employee monitoring tools, and staff management software. Many enterprises are still planning on increasing digital tool expenditure in 2022.
Going forward, most companies plan to implement a hybrid work environment for at least some of their employees. Having employees switch between home and office demands digitally enabled workflows. With digitally enabled workflows comes a greater need for digital dexterity. So what is digital dexterity? Let’s dig in and take a look.
What is Digital Dexterity?
Digital dexterity refers to the ambition and ability for employees at every level of an organization to use technology to improve business outcomes. If workers don’t have an internal drive to adopt new technology, large-scale top-down initiatives that coerce them to do so create unexpected problems.
One of the major risks associated with a lack of digital dexterity is employee change fatigue. Employees who feel like their job requirements and daily responsibilities lack stability are more likely to suffer from burnout, frustration, and apathy. Employee turnover increases as a result, driving larger societal issues like the Great Resignation.
Enterprise workforces that exhibit digital dexterity are able to quickly accommodate new digitally-enabled workflows. They proactively gain new skills when needed, and can quickly adapt to new technological and cultural changes.
As a result, digital dexterity is one of the most important characteristics that your company can cultivate. This is especially true for any company leaders who are planning large-scale digital transformation initiatives that will permanently change well-established employee workflows.
Digital Dexterity Bridges IT and HR
The traditional role of the IT department involves using technology to improve operational efficiency. IT leaders build systems that automate time-consuming manual tasks, and empower employees to use technology to boost productivity and workplace satisfaction.
HR is responsible for creating an enterprise workforce with the skills necessary to take advantage of the technologies that IT relies on. HR specialists dedicate a great deal of time and energy to helping employees improve their skills and prepare for new technological demands.
However, HR professionals may struggle to keep up with the rate of technological change and the skills that these changes require of enterprise employees. This is especially true of enterprises with high turnover rates, where both technological and personnel change happen at a brisk rate.
Digital dexterity bridges the two disciplines, giving IT and HR teams a framework for developing the skills needed today and predicting the skills that will be needed tomorrow. It enables enterprises to make digital transformation an employee-led initiative, instead of an order that comes from the top.
Soft Skills and Behavioral Attributes Contribute to Dexterity
It should be clear that digital dexterity is neither a technological nor a cultural transformation. It’s a little bit of both. Monitoring computer activities and deploying performance monitoring systems in the workplace are important elements of the shift towards digital dexterity, but they must accompany a broader cultural shift as well.
Some of the soft skills and employee characteristics that predict this kind of cultural shift include:
- An open mindset -- It takes a certain type of openness to disrupt an existing workflow and introduce new technology on a continuous basis. Employees who display openness to new experiences may be better-equipped to handle the needs of digital dexterity initiatives.
- Agile workflow capabilities -- Business agility is critical to establishing and refining workflows according to constantly shifting business needs. Employees should feel empowered to change their approach to work whenever necessary, and have the tools they need to do so effectively.
- Systems-oriented thinking -- Digital dexterity often involves building collaborative systems with responsibilities shared between HR and IT. Employees who are used to thinking systematically will have a better understanding of how that collaborative framework functions.
- Data literacy -- Data is one of the most important assets an enterprise can leverage, and many digital transformation efforts center around using data more effectively. Data literate employees are better able to collaborate with one another on these types of projects, predicting better business outcomes.
Cultivate Digital Dexterity By Focusing on Employees’ Needs
Enterprise leaders often overlook digital dexterity because they frame the demands of digital transformation in terms of what the organization needs. This is important, but it does not always inspire employees to develop skills they don’t think are personally valuable to them.
Leaders can take extra steps to show how upskilling and reskilling initiatives help employees meet their own personal goals. This helps company leaders position themselves as employee-centered people leaders, and gives employees a more compelling reason to work proactively towards digital dexterity goals.
Use Digital Exposure to Cultivate Digital Dexterity
There are many ways to do this. Some companies invest in digital exposure events that provide employees with access to emerging technologies. These events may be in-house demonstrations or off-site training with software providers. The goal of them is to showcase the potential benefits of leveraging new technologies in ways that are innovative and valuable from a company perspective.
Digital exposure events can also empower employees to bring up questions and concerns related to new technologies. It gives tech experts the opportunity to explain how those technologies work, and how they fit into the company’s compliance framework.
For instance, employees may have privacy concerns with work tracking software and work from home monitoring tools. Employees will appreciate being given the opportunity to voice their concerns before management starts monitoring computer activities using these technologies.
When properly implemented, work tracking software serves a core goal helping enterprises implement digital dexterity. These solutions empower employees to track their performance, improve efficiency, and spend more time on the tasks they do best.
Start Cultivating Your Digital Dexterity Leadership Team
Most workplaces have certain employees who already meet the demands of digital dexterity, and who take on an unofficial role as their department’s technical translator. These are the people who others turn to when they run into problems using technology.
Successful digital dexterity campaigns rely on obtaining buy-in from these local leaders, turning them into skill coaches that help their colleagues adjust to new technology deployments. These are the people your employees will ask about the privacy of monitoring computer activities before they raise their voice to management.
Identifying these people and putting them in a position to use their influence to help drive personal and organizational goals is a key driver of digital dexterity success. Use work tracking software analytics to find your most technologically active employees and establish a core connection between them, your IT department, and your HR team.