Change Readiness in a World of Digital Transformation

Digital transformation goes beyond having the best technology; it’s about having the right people with the right mind-sets. So what can you do to nurture a change-ready organisation?

Change Readiness in a World of Digital Transformation

13 Jun 2018 by  Bernice Ho

Digital transformation has disrupted how organisations operate, how people think and function, and how processes are streamlined to support the change. From the traditional waterfall, to agile methodologies, and adopting concepts beyond the IT industries, we have seen that digitalisation is happening in almost all organisations, all industries, and all functions.

Yet, digital transformation goes beyond having the best technology; it’s about having the right people with the right mind-sets. And the success of digital transformation is highly dependent on how effective organisations are in addressing employees’ mind-sets and behaviours1.

Research2 has shown that if companies can identify and address pervasive mind-sets at the beginning, they are four times more likely to succeed in organisational-change efforts than companies that overlook this stage. Furthermore, Aon research with HR and Business Executives show that 84% of participants have identified being agile/change ready as an important topic of discussion at their company.

How to measure change readiness?

People experience change differently and at their own pace, but by understanding and managing the depth and duration of the disengagement due to change, their change acceptance can be accelerated. Hence, while it is important to measure organisational readiness for digital transformation, it is also crucial to measure individual readiness as well.

Individual readiness is key in every organisation’s digital transformation journey. In order to engage in different behaviours, individuals need to:

  • understand the change coming and why it needs to happen

  • have the emotional energy to change

  • have the ability and motivation to go through with the change.

Yet, individual readiness can vary significantly across the workforce—made up Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants.  However, while the common assumption is that Digital Natives are young millennials who are fluent users of technology, research has shown that age and digital literacy does not make someone a digital native (Helsper & Eynon, 2010). Being a Digital Native means having the mind-set to embrace change—and Digital Natives are known to be curious, seek novelty, and willing to break habits to seek continual improvement.

As a result, both sets of employees would require different sets of change management action plans to make them ready for change. For instance, Digital Natives can be appointed as change catalysts to help provide support to the less savvy employees,  who may be less attuned to the pace of change in the digital era.

Organisation readiness for digital transformation means identifying the priority areas that can make them more change ready at an organisational level. It is critical to understand how leaders and important stakeholders are committed to and communicating about the digital transformation, how the success of the digital transformation is tracked, and whether the structure, process, capabilities, and rewards are enabled to support the digital transformation.

Just as your organisation’s business performance is a direct result of the performance of your people, so too is the change-readiness of your organisation. Aon’s research shows that only 51% of employees globally believe that major changes in their organisation are well-managed. This could be due to a number of factors—including poor communication and mismatched employee expectations.

So what does it take to create a change-ready culture in your organisation?

It starts with listening to what your employees have to say on how they feel about change. Whether you choose to do this via a single survey or regular pulse checks (that may even integrate with your employee engagement and culture pulse surveys), your change management plan must be designed to target the areas of maximum engagement and adoption.

There are three key areas to focus on:

1. Identifying the portion of the workforce that is ‘change-ready’, ‘passive’ or ‘at risk’.

2. Understanding how progressed impacted colleagues are through the critical stages of behavioural change—required to achieve change-readiness and adoption.

3.  Prioritising change management action areas through advanced analytics to increase change-readiness in workforce segments.

This will ensure you can better integrate your change management plans into the broader strategy of measuring and improving employee experience at every stage of the employee life-cycle—and build a future-focused organisation that is equipped to stay competitive in a world driven by disruption.

Just remember that when it comes to digital transformation, it’s not just about the technology; it’s about the people as well.

Start a conversation with us

Want to future-proof your organisation with a change-ready culture? Get in touch with us to ask about Aon's mChange solution.

1 What successful transformations share: McKinsey Global Survey results,March 2010
2 Change leader, change thyself, McKinsey Quarterly, March 2014

Bernice Ho

Bernice Ho is a Consultant with the Talent and Rewards Consulting Team based in Singapore. Bernice’s core expertise is in designing and delivering studies on Employee Feedback, Talent Management & Change Management to helping organisations to close identified performance gaps. Some examples of her key experiences are Change Management especially in the Digital Transformation space, Continuous Employee Engagement & Listening, Assessment & Development, Performance Management, Total Rewards Benchmarking and Design. Some of her clients include major organisations in both the private and public sectors.

Get in touch
Stephen Hickey
Sydney, Australia