Aversion to technology is nothing new. Ever since the first Industrial Revolution was almost thwarted by resistance to the weaving loom, people have been both fascinated and terrified by technological progress.
As we undergo a huge transformation in the digital world, resistance to using tech in the workplace is not uncommon. There are several reasons for this reluctance to engage. One is that digital apps and software appear to be complex. Yet when people take the time to learn how to use a new digital tool, they often take to it quickly. A lot depends on successful design, of course. For example, many of us are now totally comfortable using video platforms — especially since the COVID-19 pandemic — whereas most people avoided them beforehand.
Some people also worry the tech could prove so effective that it may make their jobs obsolete. This anxiety is especially prevalent now as tools powered by artificial intelligence (AI) increasingly become more commonplace. Digital skills, nonetheless, are essential in the modern workforce.
In this article, we’ll explore four key digital skills that everyone needs, and how to get people to use digital tools enthusiastically, improving their productivity and morale in the process.
AI is only going to become more ingrained in our working lives, so the best policy is to embrace it and learn how AI can benefit our work rather than threaten it. In many cases, AI can help us perform our jobs more efficiently and effectively. Look at the way “generative AI” tools are helping us polish reports or plan our meetings.
According to OECD Employment Outlook 2023: “Artificial Intelligence and the Labor Market,” despite most people harboring fears of AI, the majority of those who incorporate it into their daily work not only enjoy it, but also say that it has enhanced the quality of their work.
“When information technology (IT) professionals explain to others how to use digital tools, they often use jargon and make it difficult for people to understand,” says Benoit Maclet, educational consultant of Cegos Group. “We try to focus instead of explaining the need and daily use. Many people are already familiar with using digital tools in their personal lives, so it’s often very simple for them to transfer that skill to the workplace. You just need to give people the confidence and enough knowledge to get them interested. That makes all the difference.”
A Spark of Confidence
How do you drive people into action so they regard new emerging tech with eagerness rather than revulsion?
“There are four dimensions where we want to give people the basics,” says Liliana Louro, editorial manager of Cegos Group. “First, we give them the knowledge to comfortably use the tools, then the confidence to find out more information and build that knowledge. This initiative aims to help those who are not IT professionals use different digital tools and makes their work more efficient, pleasant and sustainable.”
There are four core skills that can help promote confidence and proficiency in using digital tools. Let’s take a look.
- Data literacy: Professionals are overwhelmed with data. The key skill here is to select the right data you need to tell your story memorably and effectively. On top of that, you should understand data analytics at a granular level, so you can achieve a real sense of what the data is telling you. Some people just throw every piece of data they have at the audience, which results in information overload. Avoid making this error and instead use storytelling techniques to engage your audience, so they easily understand the points you’re trying to make.
- Digital well-being: As well as having the confidence to use digital tools effectively, people need to ensure they’re not overwhelmed by them in a way that potentially harms mental health. In some cases, people can become addicted to digital. Think about how we check our smartphones first thing in the morning and last thing at night. This kind of addiction can have a negative impact on performance — as well as people’s lives — and can cause more problems than it solves. People need to reduce stress that comes from information overload or too much negativity online and take steps to make their digital use a lot more beneficial.
- Digital collaboration: There’re lots of advantages to being able to use digital collaborative tools productively, from understanding how to share and edit a file with others to using messaging services in a way that works for everyone. However, with many of us working remotely, it’s important to use tools in a way that optimizes the performance of everyone involved in the collaboration. That means understanding how others prefer to use those tools and setting boundaries — no messaging after 6 p.m., for example. Diversity must also be respected and tools employed in an inclusive way.
- Digital security: One of the biggest fears people have about working online are security risks. With cyber-attacks, misinformation and digital crimes such as phishing on the rise, people are increasingly reluctant to share sensitive information in case of a hack or worse.
Training people to be savvier about how they interact with others online can allow them to feel more trusting of the organization’s cybersecurity. That means being able to spot unusual messages, links and other behaviors that cyber criminals and bad actors employ. You can never be too careful!
The Bottom Line
Getting buy-in from employees when using digital technology is essential for digital transformation to be a success.
“All employees, no matter their role, may resist changing what they do and how they do it, particularly if they perceive the changes as threatening to their job security or status quo,” says Patricia Santos, Cegos Group’s director of group solutions and partners. “This resistance can lead to slow adoption of new technologies or outright rejection of the transformation efforts. So, digital transformation may fail because the teams don’t have the requisite personal and relationship skills.”
Therefore, it’s crucial that companies arm their people with the confidence and knowledge to use the digital tools they have invested in.