It’s been said that slow and steady wins the race. In the race towards digital transformation, 2020 proved that there was no time for slow and steady. While surrounded by crisis, we were also faced with opportunity. Globally, COVID-19 caused an unexpected surge in remote work, accelerating a digital evolution that forced a deeper focus on improving employee experience and engagement in the workplace. As a result, it put employee communications and employee communications applications (ECA) at the forefront.

The nature of the crisis caused business leaders and professionals in IT, HR, and communications to accelerate or consider accelerating the speed of their digital transformation. With regard to digital transformation in how organizations communicate and engage with their employees, it forced them to examine the current ECA technologies in their companies to determine if they were succeeding at reaching all employees. Given the complex landscape of employee communications applications, some organizations were more successful than others.

As I have mentioned in previous articles, employee communications applications run the gamut from email to intranets to employee apps to chat and collaboration tools. But not all apply to all workers and, depending on the workforce demographics of a particular company, they may not apply at all. Indeed, take a look at this graphic that was created by virtual events company streamGo — a very colorful one indeed. While in several instances they don’t necessarily plot the logos depicted into the appropriate ECA category, this chart makes the point loud and clear that there are a lot of ECAs now available. So before making a buying decision, it’s critical that you know what each solution represents and is capable of as an internal communications tool.

Source: StreamGo – Essential Internal Communication Tools for 2021

When it comes to communications, digital transformation is about ensuring that all employees in a company have access to content, information, and communications — not just those in offices with access to desktop computers. Thanks to the proliferation of mobile technology, digital transformation has taken the enterprise to a place no one would have thought possible, especially with regard to the nearly three billion deskless workers who, because they didn’t have access to computers, were disenfranchised from company information and information sharing.

But change, let alone transformational change, is never easy to achieve. Over the years I have come across many organizations not quite ready to embrace digital change. There are undoubtedly obstacles to implementing new and transformational tools in the workplace. First, will employees be willing to download a company workplace app to their personal mobile device? Will they use an employee app when solutions like email, intranets, and other means of communicating already exist? Will the internal communications professionals who work for enterprise companies finally get a seat at the executive boardroom table and have a say in the technological decisions that directly affect them, instead of letting IT decide without input?

In my recent work with Staffbase, I have been fortunate to consult with and advise companies embracing the importance of looking beyond the status quo and, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, calling on their leadership to accelerate their thinking about new ways to reach every employee in their organization. For those not quite there in making up their minds to digitally transform, here are five reasons why now is the time to get started and why they have the opportunity to succeed in doing so:

  1. Digital transformation and the ECAs now available provide platform/delivery mechanisms to reinforce a company’s mission, vision, and values, especially when people are working remotely. Every time an employee turns on their computer or taps their employee app, companies have the opportunity to keep what’s important to their organization top of mind, especially when people are working remotely and are apart from one another.
  2. Digital transformation is about transparency and a willingness to share information. According to the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer, communications from employers has become the most trusted source of information (61%), followed by national government (58%), traditional media (57%), and social media (39%). Whether via a blog post or iPhone video recording, nothing is more trusted, powerful, or personal than receiving news directly from the CEO. Thanks to digital transformation, technology exists to make this a reality.
  3. Digital transformation supports company culture momentum and provides a sense of community. This past year, company town hall meetings became remote productions that reached all employees thanks to modern enterprise video communications tools. Sharing of information, collaboration, and the virtual bringing of people together has never been easier or more convenient. Through chat tools and other digital means of communicating one-on-one or in groups and teams, employees can easily communicate with each other and get great work done.
  4. Digital transformation breaks down silos and brings generations of workers together. It isn’t just for Millennials or Generation Z. Now everyone in the workplace, even Baby Boomers and Generation X, can be a part of the conversation.
  5. Through digital transformation, everyone can be a winner. For the employer, providing employees with the right tools and resources equips them to become a company’s greatest ambassadors and to share the great things taking place within their organization. For employees, digital transformation allows them to be more effective and efficient in their work, saving them time to better enjoy their personal lives apart from work.