Providing equity in the digital workplace
Dave Page, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer at Actual Experience.
Learning and development is an important part of the employee value proposition (EVP). It is necessary for employees to attract the people it needs and the skills it requires, but at the same time, it is invaluable when it comes to maintaining employee engagement. Providing educational advantages and corporate training opportunities to employees can give businesses a significant and lasting advantage over their competitors. However, as Dave Page, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, Actual Experience, points out, alongside creating competitive advantage, employers need to be mindful of the need to provide an equal digital experience for their employees through the provision of equal opportunities in training and development tools.
Achieving Digital Fairness
Achieving a consistent digital experience for all employees is a problem that all businesses share. Every employee has a unique digital experience when working from home owing to a number of variables, such as differing internet connection quality. As a result of this, it can be extremely difficult to know how each person’s digital experience is impacting their ability to work optimally, and by extension, to understand the implications this has in terms of training and education.
For employers to offer effective training opportunities for staff, they must have consistency across the whole workplace’s human experience (HX) metric. For example, it can be difficult for employees with poor internet connectivity to access training opportunities if they are experiencing dropped calls or audio and video failure. Eventually, as a result of this undesirable experience, an unequal outcome is created in the workplace between those who are able to benefit from the opportunities provided by training and those who can not. While one section of the workforce is reaping the rewards and opportunities available to them as a result of upskilling and education, another is suffering from stunted progression and risks their careers stagnating due to a suboptimal digital experience.
Alongside this increase in inequality between employees, there is also an associated risk to productivity for businesses. The average annual amount of wasted time per employee can range from four to five days, but it can also be as much as thirty days or more. How valuable would it be to be able to recoup this lost time, and invest it in something worthwhile for the business, such as training or education? In the most extreme instances, individuals who lose thirty days or more as a result of digital friction are in an extremely undesirable situation, which leaves them unable to complete their work on time, let alone reap the rewards of any training. Being able to recover this lost time and productivity would be a valuable asset for any business, particularly if this lost time was put to use in delivering tangible benefits to both the employees and the business, in increasing employee education, boosting morale, and improving job satisfaction and output.
By giving employees the opportunity to undertake digital training opportunities, employers can encourage education and development among the workforce, while at the same time promoting career advancement. Yet, the biggest problem that businesses face is making sure that each employee’s digital experience is working as intended, and is consistent across all employees – and this is usually not the case.
Imagine if companies could access tangible, real-time data on how their employees are working digitally and engaging with technology. What potential benefits could there be for those who can effectively quantify the amount of lost productivity in their business on a day-to-day basis due to a below-par digital setup? If organisations are willing to promote human-centric, data-driven processes, then they will quickly be able to answer this question. Assuming an organisation already has the relevant data and analytics tools in place, it is possible for businesses to gain a great amount of cost-effective knowledge about the experience of its employees in the digital workplace.
Being able to spot those who are struggling offers a unique opportunity for businesses to pinpoint any employee who may be lagging behind due to audio or visual issues, and offer fast and effective remedial solutions by way of equipment or resources to bring them to a level playing field with their colleagues who have a better digital experience. This will enable employers to foster a fair and equal outcome for all, giving their employees the right opportunities for professional development and training.
With digital training comes a plethora of possibilities and learning resources, all of which help to boost employee engagement, retention and productivity. If your employees are growing both from a personal perspective and also professionally, then it is likely that they will have a strong level of job satisfaction, which can allow businesses to differentiate themselves in the job market as a result of an attractive EVP offering.
In order to enjoy the benefits of increased job satisfaction, employee retention and productivity, businesses must prioritise offering a consistent and fair digital experience for all employees. There is still a chance for businesses to get this right and improve their EVP, and provide the necessary opportunities for those who are left behind in the world of digital work through proper training and support.
There is a strong case to be made for investing in working towards digital equity, and in turn gaining a more thorough understanding of the employee experience, which can highlight specific training and investment needs.