June 15, 2021
Training and Development 01 July 2020
How Digital Transformation is Changing Employee Expectations
Michael Deane

New technologies are reshaping how employees and managers see their roles in their organizations. Recent technological innovations, such as digitalized project management and workflow automation, are changing the way we work.

But, in their efforts to implement digital transformation, businesses often forget about the experiences and expectations of their employees.

Embracing the Benefits of Digital Transformation

Over 500 employees who use a computer at work took part in Workront’s 2020 “State of the Work” survey. As far as employee expectations go, it is quite revealing.

According to the report, 91% of employees want more modern technology solutions. The ability to work from home and other technical benefits that make life easier are partially responsible for the rise of the digital revolution.

Employees can work from any place that has an internet connection, thanks to innovative tools that allow them to collaborate, communicate, and stay up to date on tasks and deadlines.

To younger employees, the ability to work from home as well as flexible work schedules are becoming crucial. A business needs to consider how they can offer these perks if they want to attract new talent.

Addressing Employee Concerns

About 87% of respondents to the 2020 State of Work survey think company leaders should reconsider the way they think about tech. According to the 2019 report, 48% of employees claim they know someone who has lost their job because of automation.

While most employees clearly see that there are benefits to adopting new technological solutions, a large portion of the workforce still has some reservations about digital transformation in the workplace.

It’s safe to assume that digital transformation can be intimidating for employees, especially if it is not implemented well. Many leaders simply purchase new tools and then expect employee productivity to improve right away.

They don’t stop to consider how they should update procedures and processes. This often results in frustration on both sides.

Employers also need to invest in employee training when investing in new software. New digital solutions always come with a learning curve, no matter how tech-savvy your employees are. Before setting their own goals and expectations, leaders need to consider their employee’s needs and expectations.

Preventing Fault Lines

Approximately 67% of non-IT workers think that the company they are working for overlooks their digital assets, according to Gartner’s survey. Moreover, less than half of workers think that their Chief Information Officers are aware of digital technology problems that are affecting their teams.

Many younger employees are turning away from standard IT support channels. When one department is trying to get compliance while the other is looking to get the work done as quickly as possible, fault lines can easily happen.

Leaders need to find a way to meet the needs of a huge cross-section of workers. It may look like senior managers and board members are always the ones that are making digitalization happen. But, in many cases, they are doing it because employees are pressuring them to do so.

The Relationship Between Digital Transformation and Productivity

According to the 2020 State of Work report, tech-centric workers spend only 40% of their time at work doing the job they were hired to do. They spend the rest of it on meetings, emails, and oversight.

While these tasks are partially responsible for lack of productivity, poor work prioritization and the lack of workflow processes are also to be blamed. Poorly implemented software solutions and outdated or inadequate tech are some of the most common challenges when growing a business.

Tech-centric employees also want to be rewarded based on the results rather than deliverables only. As businesses scale, it becomes easier to focus more on tasks and deliverables. However, this can draw away attention from the company’s strategic goals. Workers want to focus more on these strategic goals and limit wasteful tasks.

Digital transformation has impacted the way employees see work. Company leaders must face the fact that poorly implemented digital solutions can contribute to employee dissatisfaction and lack of productivity. If a company doesn’t recognize the importance of a dynamic environment, it may fall behind. For digital transformation to work, leaders can’t simply adopt new tech just to satisfy employees and hope it will take hold.

It takes more time and effort to build a proper digital workforce. Businesses that can adopt the right mindset will reap long-term benefits.

Employee Empowerment And Engagement Are Key

The people of a company will always be more important than new tech, even with increasing automation. A profound shift occurs whenever the leadership introduces new technology into major facets of their company.

Digital transformation can reshape entire departments, job titles, and processes. It can have a significant impact on company culture. If workers feel that they will lose their jobs and that their values are threatened, leaders will feel the pushback.

If employers want their employees to get on board, they need to start with empathy. Technology is very important when you are trying to transform a company. However, companies with strong leadership and practices that are oriented toward developing talent are much more likely to succeed in their journey.

Digital transformation cannot be successful without employee empowerment and engagement. It is essential to have a two-way flow of information between those who will be using the new digital solutions and those who are responsible for implementing them.

Leaders need to successfully demonstrate to their employees how the new digital solutions will aid them in their work. They also may need to give employees the freedom to work the way they want.

When implementing new solutions, companies should also provide their workers with a portal to all the info they might need about relevant projects. If the leadership allows employees to express their own suggestions about how and where digitalization can support the company, it will be more likely to reach success.

To gain buy-in from employees, leaders need to have a vision that matches the strategic goals of the business. Many employers neglect the role culture has in digital transformation.

Employees also need to embrace empowerment. For digital transformation to work, both the employers and the employees need to understand exactly why change is necessary, what the change will be, and how they will benefit from it.


It is the responsibility of the leadership to motivate the workers to align their skills and knowledge with new digital solutions. However, they are also responsible for providing them with the appropriate tools.

Even if most of your employees desire changes, they may overwhelm them if you implement them too fast. In digital transformation, people come first. To make sure it will be a success, you first need to ensure your employees’ needs are met.

Michael has been working in marketing for almost a decade and has worked with a huge range of clients, which has made him knowledgeable on many different subjects. He has recently rediscovered a passion for writing and hopes to make it a daily habit. You can read more of Michael's work at Qeedle.