According to Gartner research, 67 percent of business leaders believe their company “will no longer be competitive if it does not become significantly more digitalized by 2020.” This fear of falling behind is a major concern for businesses across all markets in a changing world. As technology changes, users’ behavior does, too, as they become used to faster, more convenient ways to engage with businesses.

When it comes to digital transformation, it’s all too easy to say, “We need new blood – young minds who understand all this techie stuff and can guide us into the future.” But it’s important that as you begin to embrace digital transformation, you don’t lose the engagement of older, often more senior, staff. As soon as you lose their engagement, you’ll lose their knowledge, along with decades of experience and insight.

As workforce demographics continue to swing toward millennials, some companies are having a hard time meeting the varying needs of a multigenerational workforce. The need for digital transformation only puts more pressure on companies that feel forced by the marketplace to embrace new ways of doing business.

Digital transformation isn’t just something established players are needing to figure out. Even small businesses must keep up with digital trends. To prepare your workforce for digital transformation, it’s important to allay fears, change the way people approach technology, lead by example, and give everyone the tools and opportunities they need to pursue personal digital growth, no matter where they are in their career.

1. Address Concerns Upfront.

First and foremost, engage your stakeholders. Anticipate as many questions as possible, and have answers ready for them. Since digital transformation can affect all areas of a business, it’s natural for employees to start asking questions like:

  • Is my job safe? Will I be replaced by a robot?
  • What will happen if I don’t “get on board”?
  • How is this change going to impact the way I do my job day-to-day?

Before you start thinking about strategy, bring your key stakeholders on board, and give them the opportunity to voice any concerns. This step is important for senior staff and board members, because they should be the ones to spearhead digital change.

2. Lead by Example.

Encourage your senior staff to personally embrace the use of emerging digital platforms and channels to make digital transformation feel more comfortable. Live video posts on Facebook, Instagram stories and voice search help employees ask the right kinds of questions and engage insightfully with proposed digital changes.

Encouraging senior staff to explore the possibilities of new digital trends allows them to build their own digital roadmaps for their departments. This approach will create a model that their team members can embrace, too, leading to a willingness to experiment, an openness to external partnerships and, ultimately, a culture of digital growth.

3. Tie Digital Transformation to Career Advancement.

Another great way to encourage employees is to link digital transformation to their career growth and goals. For example, if a senior manager is looking to become head of sales, rather than tying her advancement only to traditional sales KPIs, add a related digital goal, such as using online communication platforms. This strategy can act as a “proving” ground for new tools and business structures, which you can then roll out throughout the wider business.

4. Help Employees Embrace Agility.

Digital transformation isn’t a one-off. It’s a constantly evolving state of testing, implementation and progression. Today’s technologies and consumer needs change faster than traditional business roadmaps, and employees need to be empowered to move at this pace. The best way to embrace this paradigm shift is to promote agile thinking and working. Set daily goals for staff, and have regular catch-up meetings to make sure everyone is kept abreast of the latest changes and evolutions.

5. Get Closer to Customers.

In order to give your teams a deeper understanding of the upcoming digital transformation, it’s important to use technology to stay in touch with your customers. They’re often the people who are central to your digital transformation in the first place.

We know that acquiring insight into the tastes and habits of our customers is key to driving sales. New and emerging tools such as social media listening, user research and journey mapping can be powerful enablers to guide digital transformation and give staff context for future changes.

6. Empower Employees.

All of these points have focused on empowering your employees with the opportunity to embrace digital transformation. When your employees have everything they need to do their work as best they can, they feel valuable and engaged.

Allow your employees to make some decisions in the best interest of customers and business goals. Training programs, flexible working and experimenting will new digital tools empower your staff with the ability to make digital transformation a personal goal as well as a business goal.