Employee training and onboarding: Why it needs to be responsive to digital transformation

Tech and Tools   |   
Published November 26, 2020   |   

COVID-19 has made digital transformation a popular term in the business community. The pandemic has forced many to embrace digital technology as the pandemic made lockdowns, community quarantines, and physical distancing necessary. Digitalization is particularly relevant to employee training and onboarding in light of the shift to remote work and other employee arrangements to cope with the pandemic.

Digital transformation: an enabled enabler

Embracing digital technology is essential to the remote work setup. Virtually all forms of telecommuting at present make use of digital technology. Imagine how difficult it would be to gather and analyze data, prepare reports, and submit the work done without computers and the internet. Likewise, tracking employee activity would be extremely difficult without digital tools.

Digital technology makes telework efficient, but it is worth noting that much of the recent digital transformation among businesses has been spurred in part by the need to adopt remote work schemes. As a Deloitte Insights report on digital transformation in the midst of COVID-19 notes, “seventy-seven percent of CEOs reported that the COVID-19 crisis accelerated their digital transformation plans.”

There is an interesting relationship between digital transformation and human resource management in the context of remote work as part of the new normal. Digitalization is vital for efficient and seamless remote work environments, but many businesses belatedly realize that they have more work to do towards digitizing their workplaces. Essentially, many are forced to undergo digital transformation because they need to switch to remote work.

Path to digital transformation

Ideally, digital transformation should come before teleworking arrangements are implemented. However, as a COVID-19 and work-from-home paper published in Grey Journal notes, the sequence has apparently been in the reverse. “This sudden need for work from home is driving the digital transformation of the workforce and the evolution of the work environment at an unprecedented speed,” the paper writes.

This idea seemingly skews the logic in the question posited in this article’s title. How can employee training and onboarding respond to digital transformation when the remote work wave appears to be the one dictating the digitization efforts in organizations?

Things do not have to be viewed in this perspective, though. There is a reason why digital adoption platforms exist. It is never too late to undertake digital transformation the right way even when an organization is in the midst of implementing dramatic changes in its operations. Companies can go digital to attain optimum outcomes from the digital shift.

The path to digital transformation does not have to be flawless and linear. There is always time for amendments or tweaks to achieve efficiency. Organizations can collect and analyze operational data that should be considered in the digital transformation process. Organizations that do not have the expertise in handling such data can turn to digitalization platforms to ensure the best outcomes.

The need for digitally responsive training and onboarding

Is it necessary for employee training and onboarding to be in tune with digital transformation? The answer is most certainly in the affirmative. As mentioned, digital technology is a must for an efficient remote work setup. Even when a company does not adopt teleworking, it does not make sense not to digitize human capital management when the rest of the organization is going digital.

Efficiency should be enough reason to consider attuning training and onboarding with digital transformation. Why should a company have separate physical documents or analog record keeping for employee orientation, training, and management when the accounting and sales departments are already employing SaaS solutions?

Organizations are better managed when records are already in digital format, when operations data is captured automatically and can be monitored in real-time. This swift access to information makes businesses more proactive and prepared to address challenges and opportunities as they emerge. It makes it easy to analyze data and establish trends to help spot problems and improve the onboarding process.

Also, bringing the employee training and onboarding in line with digital transformation allows organizations to streamline their processes and flow of information. It eliminates siloing and cluttering.

Big data is one of the modern technologies that can significantly improve business outcomes. Not many realize it is also highly valuable when it comes to HR training and management. “Big Data can improve talent acquisition processes, retention, and performance management which affects the overall performance of the organization positively,” says Vikash Kumar, a marketing manager at Tatvasoft. Harnessing big data is nearly impossible without digitalization.

Responding to digital transformation

Training and onboarding can take advantage of learning management systems (LMS), mobile apps, as well as extended reality (XR) technologies. LMS can be used to automate training sessions and reduce the need for an HR manager to personally attend to the needs of new hires. The same goes with mobile apps, which can serve as free portable guides for new employees available anytime and anywhere. On the other hand, organizations with bigger resources may want to consider investing in XR to create more immersive experiences that help raise employee engagement.

However, moving along with digital transformation does not always mean having to use software tools or digital systems specifically developed for employee onboarding. Organizations can start by streamlining communications through email, video conferencing, and other highly secure messaging platforms. Companies can also use digital signatures for electronic documents. Additionally, human resource departments can use podcasts, chatbots, interactive dashboards, and employee portals to provide self-service training.

In summary

There is nothing extremely challenging in responding positively to digital transformation. It would take a technophobe to resist the need to modify training and onboarding methods and procedures to be compatible with digital systems. The options listed above are already used in regular activities. Getting acquainted with them or even learning how to use LMS and other technologies.

The digitalization of training and onboarding is considerably less expensive, scalable, and flexible. It also allows businesses to tap on the benefits of big data when it comes to human capital management.