Putting people at the heart of the digital revolution


Putting people at the heart of the digital revolution

27 Apr, 2018

Digital is transforming the future of work. A company's main asset is its people. Employee inclusion is a vital preliminary step to succeed in the digital transformation.

Caroline Loisel, HR consultant, and Emmanuel Vivier, co-founder of the Hub Institute, set out their vision and discuss their experiences.

How is digital transforming the future of work?

Digital is transforming methods of collaboration, training and management within companies. The digital transformation basically calls for an adjustment of everyone's attitudes on three levels, across all business sectors:
  • How we carry out our day-to-day work,
  • Professional relationships, internally and as part of a new ecosystem, 
  • Career prospects, with changes in every function. 
With businesses currently facing issues such as planned knowledge obsolescence, the acceleration of new technologies, the increase in the number of tools for focusing on high value-added tasks and the platform-based "Uberisation" of activities, eight key trends are emerging for the future of work.

All aspects of employees' work are affected by these trends. From searching for jobs to induction into the company, via recruitment and training – the digital transformation impacts the entire employee journey.

In terms of the company's transformation, from a business and strategic perspective, to what extent are those transformations accepted by employees?

Changes to the digital world imply no longer controlling everything, no longer knowing everything and ultimately encourage a rejection of the label of expert. Digital means voluntarily letting go, agreeing to always question yourself, accepting dependence on others. Digital culture changes the notion of ego and power for each individual.

The overriding reaction to this change, for all groups affected, is one of alarm. Change pushes everyone out of their comfort zone and the mechanical part of our brain is conditioned to go into protected mode. To shield themselves, many people hide behind "beliefs" which allow them – if only for a short time – to feel that they are unaffected by the change happening around them. Everyone constructs their limiting beliefs based on their experience, age and background.

Since our actions are the result of our beliefs, to affect behaviour it is important to begin by understanding those beliefs in order to work with them and transform them.

How can the company mitigate those beliefs and enable employees to adapt their work at their own pace and according to their background?

In change management, it is fundamental to understand not only the state of the business but also people's mind-sets. The company's performance relies on the individual performance of each of its employees. The success of the company's transformation is therefore dependent on including those employees.

In order to involve everyone at every stage in the transformation – since every business line is affected – it is vital to take into account everyone's beliefs and implement actions to mitigate them. Without completely removing them, this "cushioning" exercise allows everyone to experience "their" change more smoothly.

Four types of action are possible in this respect: 
  • Co-construction through listening and collective intelligence 
  • Understanding through sharing the challenges of the new business ecosystem
  • Openness through visiting other companies and organisations which have already evolved their ways of working, organising and collaborating 
  • Experimentation – the final stage – to simulate the environment for the new working methods and take the first step towards implementing them
At the Hub Institute, we work with companies on their transformation by focusing on the human aspects. For example, this approach was adopted in 2016 by a large company in the media sector. A jointly developed support process and three-day training course were rolled out to 2500 employees, from assistants to managers. The objective was to provide a better understanding of the latest strategic challenges facing the company, to address the reality of an increasingly digital world and to develop tools to enable each individual to embrace the new shape of their business and their daily work. 

This article is also available in French. 

HR consultant
co-founder of the Hub Institute
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