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Industries with high volumes of frontline workers are often late to the game when it comes to digital transformation because the effort to change can seem daunting. The familiarity of paper processes, ease of ad hoc processes, potential for worker pushback and hesitation to change keeps leaders from making the switch to digital solutions.

Digital transformation requires changes in technology as well as rethinking leadership and adjusting business processes workplace culture (and sometimes even the actual work). The payoff is engaged workers and a positive impact on the bottom line. Research shows that companies with engaged workers benefit from $2.30 of improved productivity for every $1 spent and the Engagement Institute found that disengaged workers can cost companies upwards of $550 billion a year. So, why are some companies still hesitant in adopting new processes? Here’s why.

Why Are Companies Hesitant To Change?

The apprehension doesn’t always stem from the technology itself, but from the cultural and organizational change it brings. In the past, the lack of interest from CEOs or senior executives was the main reason for the slow progression of digital transformation. Now, it can be hesitation from frontline staff that is often responsible for causing obstacles when implementing new technologies.

Studies shown by McKinsey & Company found that 84% of CEOs are interested in committing to technological advancements while only 45% of frontline employees are engaged with larger companies. While supervisors may be all about executing new ideas for efficiency, frontline workers are becoming more resistant to the change and implementation of new tools. Identifying the right solutions that are built for the front-line worker, are easy to use, engage the worker and actually provide value for the worker instead of just creating more overhead are critical when making decisions about what solutions will make the most positive impact.

One driver that should cause companies to be more aggressive with changes number of worker deaths and injuries. According to OSHA, 20.7% of the worker fatalities in private industry in 2017 were in construction. These staggering numbers are incentivize companies to spend more time and effort incorporating technology solutions in the ecosystem. This includes technology-enabled wearables, cameras, and sensors to build a safer environment and data collection technologies with IoT frameworks to evaluate data for improvement opportunities.

Technology that can be overlooked in driving positive safety changes, but can be key to digital transformation, are the devices that every worker has with them every day—their mobile devices. More than 81% of the U.S. population has smartphones and more than 96% have cellular phones. Leveraging mobile technology in the workplace can help ease the fear of change due to familiarity and reduce the cost of digital transformation. And the result is more productive workers who are equipped with critical business information and connectivity when they need it.

Benefits to Digital Transformation

Key benefits of digital transformation are faster processing and efficiency, reduced errors, better user experience, ease of managing and rolling out change, higher productivity and higher revenues. When applied to safety and the frontline worker, the benefits can be dramatic. For safety, it’s all about culture and engaging the worker. Using workforce-first safety software can significantly supercharge a safety program and increase worker engagement and the resulting ROI can be significant. Research by Queens School of Business and the Gallup Organization found a 37% higher desertion in disengaged members resulting in a 49% increase of accidents and a 60% increase of errors and defects.

Workforce-first safety solutions not only help with worker engagement, but also help with management and leadership engagement which is critical to building digital a strong safety culture and trust with frontline workers. These solutions can help the frontline and leadership be better connected and with real-time data the discussions transition from historical events to now. When focusing on the now, with relevant data, leadership has the opportunity to intervene at the earliest point. This allows companies to take a proactive rather than reactive approach to workplace safety and keeps employees engaged and feeling valued and protected. And driving this type of change, the result will be reductions in incidents, deaths, lost workdays and the associated claims.

Moving Forward

As companies prepare to embark on their digital transformation journey, it is critical for leaders to be transparent and communicate often. The world is changing rapidly and new technologies and capabilities are being introduced at lightning speed. As part of a company’s digital transformation plans, it is important to spend time understanding the impact of various technologies on the workers and ultimately on the workplace culture.

Rather than reacting to and rolling out every new technological advancement, management may be more successful in setting the foundation for change and why change is needed and prepare a workforce on how this is going to improve their work environment over the next several years. Most importantly, involve the worker in the process and give them a voice.

It all starts with inspired and engaged employees. High levels of worker engagement translates to satisfied customers and a safer work environment. Digital is the means to get a company to their end goal, but the transformation is an enterprise-wide activity so think about the employees first.


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