When it comes to digital transformation, focus on the people, build out exceptional employee experiences, create unity and purpose…and the technology will follow.

Contrary to popular belief, digital transformation is less about technology and absolutely about people. We cannot forget the importance of people in a digital economy because while you can pretty much buy any technology, your ability to adapt to an even more digital future depends on developing the next generation of skills, closing the gap between talent supply and demand, and future-proofing your own and others’ potential.

Good people will champion your business and ultimately determine the success or failure of it. It is the personal element and connections that we create as humans beings that help build a rapport and develop long-standing relationships necessary for a trusting and efficient connection between business and client. It is as they say, people buy people.

In our experience, here are a few considerations in building standout employee experiences for both existing and potential talent:

Cultural transformation and wellbeing

The pandemic has given employers increased visibility into the real lives of their employees and has shifted the focus from just organizational issues to individual human life experiences. People and organizations have shown extraordinary resilience, facing many stresses; child and elder caregiving, financial struggles, social justice issues, loneliness, burnout, and physical and emotional health challenges.

Leaders now view wellbeing not just as an employee benefit but as an opportunity to support employees in all aspects of their personal and work lives. The shift is driven by the idea that an employer’s success in improving employee wellbeing will ultimately improve the success of the whole organization.

Reimagining how and where work will get done

The last 20 months has both instigated and accelerated fundamental shifts in the labour market. Having had more time to reflect and a focus on how we live and work, has provoked a collective re-evaluation of what people want from their careers.

It is not surprising, then, that many who have experienced the flexibility of hybrid and remote working environments are not keen to go back. In fact, according to one recent survey, 41% of global workers are considering leaving or changing professions this year, having reconsidered what they want from their employer and career.

Dubbed the ‘Great Resignation’, this phenomenon is creating high levels of competition within the jobs market, and the balance seems to be tipped in job seekers’ favour. Employers can no longer rely on boosting pay packages to attract and keep the talent they need – given the disruption many businesses have faced during the pandemic they may not be able to afford this anyway.

Flexibility with hybrid working models

Employees proved during the pandemic that working in employer-controlled workspaces doesn’t have to wholly determine their productivity or engagement. They have also discovered that flexibility can help them feel more successful not just at work, but as people — as parents, caregivers, social activists or however they choose to define themselves.

A recent Gartner poll showed that 48% of employees will likely work remotely at least part of the time after COVID-19 versus 30% before the pandemic.

Nearly half of CEOs say they plan to increase their long-term investment in digital transformation by 10% or more. That includes technology solutions to support higher levels of remote working, such as productivity analytics and collaboration suites that bridge the gap between people who regularly work in the office and those who work remotely.

Create unity and purpose

The thing is about organizational culture, one will form whether there is unity or not. The difference is, the larger the ‘unity gap’ the greater chance the organizational culture will be out-of-control, confused, or at worse, toxic. The unity gap will affect productivity, health, performance, and client focus.

While some people-facing roles will return to the office, many organizations are permanently shifting to hybrid working or a completely remote setup. It can be easy for employees to feel disconnected from each other and their organization. It is therefore up to businesses to find ways to rebuild and re-communicate their company culture and purpose.

Embracing flexibility will go a long way to ensuring that everyone feels they have a place within an organization that recognizes their unique situation and supports it. But above all, it’s essential that employers know what their people want and how those needs may be changing and evolving.

The power of transparency

When a business is more transparent with their employees, they tend to be more successful in several areas: they have increased employee engagement, stronger company culture, and the openness fosters a type of comfort that allows employees to freely communicate. A transparent work environment also helps employees feel valued and encourages creativity.

Workplace transparency is proven to breed long-term success. Implemented properly, increased transparency creates trust between employers and employees which helps improve morale and lowers job-related stress. Plus, it can increase employee happiness and boost performance.

Open communications

To get people moving in harmony, regularly communicate the expectations. Establishing open discussion forums for feedback, conducting regular ‘check-in’s, communicating news of initiatives and perks, and often leading by example when it comes to playing back feedback and sentiment, will help to encourage a considered, inclusive working experience within a competitive marketplace.

Creating organizational culture and purpose – particularly in a remote world, takes careful consideration and strategic alignment between HR and business leaders. Defining and communicating this vision with credibility is a huge differentiator in attracting and keeping the right talent.

Use technology to foster cohesion

The purpose of this post is not to talk specifics about technology, but it would go amiss without a brief mention. Professional Services organizations still using legacy applications and infrastructure will quickly find that they are constrained by the inability to share data and information remotely, and at scale.

Employees want to be included and technology, for example, Microsoft Dynamics 365, can help. Dynamics 365 connects employees across departments and geographies, empowering them to deliver feedback, outline intentions, and assume a policy of knowledge-sharing. Dynamics 365 has collaboration at its core. Every app focuses on improved transparency, efficiency, and communication.

People first

One of the most obvious consequences of the pandemic will be the infusion of data-enabled services into ever more aspects of life. Digital transformation is now an even bigger imperative for organizations in the short-term future but, we will always need human creativity, collaboration, and reflection. The most valuable part of your company is the people—the human capital—and any plans to move your business forward has to start there.

At sa.global, we are helping Professional Services organizations become cloud-first businesses, accelerating their digital transformation to realize greater value at speed and scale. Get in touch to find out how our business ready solutions built on Microsoft technology can support your teams with collaboration and alignment today.