As a manager or business owner, when should I take steps to improve the digital know how in my organisation?
It’s a crucial question that has crossed the mind of nearly every business leader as they struggle to keep up with new technology, security concerns and employees’ desire to keep learning. What are the clues or signs that you might need to take action and how do you know what that action should be? What are the minimum tech skills that you should be building within your workforce or bringing to the organisation through new recruits?
Here are some tell-tale signs that your organisation might be in need of some digital devotion…
1. You’re relying on young employees to bring in new digital skills
Some 40 per cent of employers say their organisation relies on younger employees and graduates for the digital skills it requires, bypassing the need to train up mid-level employees. And yet it’s the younger generations who are struggling the most and feeling the weight of those pressures; 18-34 year olds are the age group that is most worried about being left behind because they lack digital skills.
You cannot simply expect graduates and others entering the workforce to bring the digital skills you need with them. And they are not going to bring your existing colleagues up to speed by osmosis either. Taking a proactive approach to digital upskilling and focusing on building confidence among your existing workforce, even those who need only a basic level of IT knowledge to do their job, will transform the way your employees think about optimising new technologies or protecting themselves against security risks.
2. You’re focusing on the price tag of training and recruitment more than the benefits
The digital revolution signals an era of huge opportunity. It is already affecting us all – changing the ways in which we interact as individuals and societies. But there are also risks – if we don’t keep up with other countries, British businesses risk becoming less competitive, less productive and less able to thrive in the digital age.
Digital training doesn’t need to require a huge investment. There is a multitude of low cost or free tools out there that you can encourage your employees to use to build their digital skills and confidence.
The Barclays Digital Driving Licence, which is endorsed by City & Guilds, is a free learning tool designed to develop and grow individuals’ knowledge and confidence of living in the digital world – and anyone can use it, not just our customers.
3. You fear falling victim to a data breach or cyber attack
If you can relate to this point, you are not alone. According to our research, knowledge of data and device protection is considered the most important digital skill for employers when hiring new employees.
If you don’t know where to start, think about conducting a security audit – if you don’t know what parts of your business are vulnerable or what data you have that needs to be protected, you can’t properly secure it.
You should also make your employees aware of the important role they play in data and information security. Through training and guidance, vigilant employees can ensure that the risk and impact of human error is minimised. This is particularly important if you have a mobile or agile workforce, often operating in open networks which can be less secure.
4. You put some training in place five years ago
If you’re relying on digital training that took place several years ago as still being useful, you need to start looking to the future. Digital confidence is a continuum – it does not stop after a single training course.
The only solution is to keep learning – and to encourage everyone from your leadership down to do the same. While the pace of skills disruption may well be increasing, learning new skills has never been easier – ironically, the rise of digital is giving way to more and more online resources.
5. You think the change could be unnecessarily disruptive
Rather than burying your head in the sand, take a look around you and learn from other businesses that have successfully implemented digital skills. They won’t necessarily be the most high-tech organisations, but they have still empowered their employees to feel confident using the relevant tools and resources. Digital knowhow will be crucial if your business, workforce and society more broadly are not going to be left stranded as the hi-tech tide continues.
While it can seem like a daunting task, there are simple, small steps that you can take to raise the confidence levels among your workforce. Listen to their concerns, pinpoint digital ambassadors or those with a burning interest to bring others along with them and instil better communication. Ultimately, remember that it’s not a race – technology may keep changing around us, but each business and individual will need to adapt in their own way.