Dealing with digital trends is hard, especially when it involves communicating with real people. According to Deloitte’s recent Global Human Capital Trends Report and a survey by The Conference Board, workplace culture and communication is shifting. Artificial intelligence (AI), digital programs and gig workers are increasingly becoming business critical. These trends affect your entire organization. Preparing your leaders to respond to these shifting norms can make or break a company.
Communication in the digital world is complex. It will determine how well your business adapts to shifting norms. Below are ways leaders can embrace this complex environment. Let’s focus on two areas.
Digital Trend #1: Gig Work & Freelancers
Gig workers (individuals outside the traditional, long-term employer-employee relationship) provide economic benefits. They allow an organization to scale up and down quickly, reduce costs and access specific skills when needed. They also meet the needs of today’s workforce by providing flexibility. At the same time, how do you ensure these individuals are spreading your message correctly?
When a team member is not full-time, and perhaps not even an employee, they may miss out on key information. Also, they may not fully understand processes or misinterpret your organization’s values. All these potential issues highlight the importance of having strong leaders throughout the entire organization. They will ensure these individuals, often critical to business operations, contribute to their fullest potential and don’t feel like the “hired help.”
At IMPACT Group, we engage freelance team members to manage large-scale projects that require us to scale up and down quickly, as well as to leverage unique skillsets. These team members are critical to the success of our organization. We are continually working to improve our communication and collaboration with them so they understand the key role they play to our customers’ experience.
There are an estimated 42 million Americans who work independently and that number is expected to grow by nearly 5% in the next five years. To maximize your contingent staff, focus on clarifying expectations when you onboard a new gig worker and continuously communicate updates and news to them. This promotes strong engagement and deeper relationships with the workforce that is gently tethered to you.
Digital Trend #2: AI & Digital Systems
As AI integrates itself into all facets of our world, business leaders will need to reimagine nearly every role their team holds. Workers will need to become multidisciplinary. On the flip side, leaders will need to think about what each individual team member brings to the table in this more complex environment. What creativity, strategies and insight can your team bring that machines can’t? Help your team identify the human aspect they bring to their role that make them indispensable in our tech age.
AI and digital systems can boost efficiency, but only when they’re rolled out correctly. For instance, we made a mistake a few years ago when we invested in a new technology designed to increase collaboration. Unfortunately, we treated it as an “IT Roll Out” instead of a strategic business initiative. The first time around, the roll out was not as effective as we anticipated. However, as we “course corrected,” we created a project team comprised of project management, tech support, communication and training. This ensured adoption and success going forward.
For AI and digital systems to be effective, leaders need to have buy-in from the top before rolling it out. Get your leaders on board, and then bring it to the rest of the team. Explaining the “why” behind the solution communicates the impact you hope it will have on company success and current jobs. If you fail to share how the change will benefit people in their day-to-day life and the long-term health of the company, then any struggles or tech issues you face could be met with frustration, unhappiness or anger rather than understanding and a mindset of learning.
Invest in your leadership to help them develop the competencies that the future workforce demands. When leaders can pull the top performance out of their workforce, they are able to leverage the efficiencies that the on-demand workforce and new technologies can bring. Not to mention, your entire team will feel empowered, valued and invested in your organization.