How to Overcome Employee Resistance to Digital Transformation & Modernisation

The advantages of AI and digital transformation & modernisation efforts may be received with fear or scepticism at first. However, it becomes evident that these efforts are worthwhile when looking at how technology can help companies improve operations, decrease risk, and save money.

The COVID-19 pandemic sparked a feeling of urgency for digital transformation across all industries worldwide. The failed attempts of big companies in the past have taught modern businesses many lessons, and businesses are now implementing the concept much more smoothly.

One of the most significant roadblocks is employee resistance to change, which is often the primary cause of transformation failure. The fear of change, which is induced by the fear of the unknown, is the major reason for people’s aversion to industrial digitalisation. Employees are concerned that the new responsibilities will be too difficult for them, that they will fail to grasp the new method of working and be dismissed, or that digitalisation would render their position obsolete entirely. Employee resistance to transformation is fuelled by all of these anxieties.

As a result, it’s critical to recognise and understand this fear, as well as to implement strategies that will help teams feel more at ease and open to change.

It’s not all about technology when it comes to transformation

Because any organisational transformation can only work with the human workforce, a shift away from a technology-focused perspective is required. Businesses should strive to improve both employee and consumer experiences. No single technology will be able to deliver exceptional results. As a result, the human and digital workforces must operate hand in hand. In the end, technology exists to make people’s lives easier.

Communication is key

Now that organisations understand that most of the worries associated with transformation stem from the unknown and unpredictability of the process, the best ally in countering the fear in the workplace is open and regular communication.

Consistent and reassuring communication is critical in dealing with the most apprehensive employees, who may now be hesitant to criticise or ask difficult concerns. It is necessary to be open to having those conversations and not to avoid them because this will create an atmosphere of ambiguity and may lead to resentment of the process before it even begins.

Leaders will be able to address concerns and doubts more effectively and strengthen their team’s resilience to difficulties and disruptions if they create room for them. They must remember that communication must continue throughout the process; it cannot conclude with a single meeting. They must handle new issues and possibilities, be open to feedback, and modify their communication efforts to the situation because different changes will take time to implement.

Encourage employees to move along in the right direction

Employee anxiety about job security and failure must be acknowledged by leaders. Emphasising that digital transformation provides employees with the opportunity to improve their skills for the future can be a motivator. Another option is to concentrate on their personal development goals – identifying what they enjoy doing and what they can do best for the organisation. Employee skillsets must correspond to aspects of the digital transformation. Employees will feel more confident and open when they realise that new technologies will help them perform even better.

Commodity & Energy companies are right to take digital seriously; it is important for their future success, and it is imperative for global economic growth and environmental care.

For the time being, digital transformations in energy and commodity companies will largely focus on operations. That scope is hard enough and has plenty that needs to be addressed. But in successfully reimagining operations—and building digital capabilities along the way— these companies will open the next horizon of digital opportunity and truly disruptive business models. We are only at the beginning of the journey.

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About the Author

Jason Novobranec is Implementary’s Chief Operating Officer.

With over 20 years of Consulting, Program Management & Senior Leadership experience, Jason has delivered initiatives for large multi-national / multi-regional organisations as well as SME’s and is an expert in shaping solutions to fit a customer’s project needs.

“CBH has engaged Jason Novobranec of Implementary as a consultant on our Commodity Trading and Risk Management project. He has returned great value with his breadth of knowledge in the area and his experience in working with many of the prospective providers.

We have found his approach to be thorough, forthright and definitive while respecting the views and approach of his client.”

Mary Karborani

IT Application Services Manager | CBH Group