How to Prepare Employees for Change and Save Costs in The Process
To stay on top of things, your company continuously introduces innovative solutions and processes. But even the changes that you are making primarily to deliver a better service to your customers can’t be made without dedicated support from (and to) your internal team.
Too often, companies focus on how innovative solutions will be received by customers, i.e., external users, and underestimate the preparation of internal users – employees. However, it is the internal users and their ability to use these solutions that will determine if it will be a success.
The Importance of Employee Training
Whether it’s creating a new website or introducing a completely new part of a company’s digital environment, it is easy to focus only on the technical side of things. Implementation is usually quick, which can’t be said for thinking about how you will work with the new solution afterward. That is, however, crucial.
“Customer experience experts spend a considerable amount of time designing services and products to be easy and intuitive to use. The care and focus on internal users are often not as intense. Yet their influence on the effectiveness of the solution and the final form of customer interaction is crucial.” - Ratibor Líbal, Co-founder, Actum.
If the training is insufficient, the new solution may not be as beneficial as the company originally planned. Under-preparation of employees will result in sub-optimal efficiency and will not form a positive employee attitude towards the new solution. Remedying the situation will require additional costs – and you’ll still miss the best time to secure the right attitude from your employees. Employee disengagement with the introduction of change is always risky for the company: they lose motivation or may even become resistant to it.
Get your employees on board and make sure they understand the benefits of the change
It’s important to prepare the ground for any change before you even start implementing it in the company. Then there is a chance that the transition to the new solution will go without major hitches (and there are bound to be some!). Change management should be part of every change. In other words, internal users need to clearly see how the new solution is better and what it will do for them.
For example, that building a new website only takes half an hour instead of four. Or that entering a new product into the CRM involves only four steps as opposed to the previous nine. Increasing the level of automation of each step in the workflow and making it more transparent overall is also a big benefit. These are just a few examples of changes that internal users will appreciate because they will immediately improve their lives.
But changes for the better are not always obvious at first sight. It could be things like the fact that the new content management system puts all visual assets in one place for everyone who needs to work with them, or that production metrics are available in real-time.
Nevertheless, preparing internal users well for change is important in any business, from a manufacturing company to one that provides purely digital services. In all cases, it’s important to start user onboarding early – with the first step being identifying user needs and setting expectations correctly. You simply need to get buy-in for your plan from all internal stakeholders.
Why smaller companies tend to under-invest in upskilling their employees
As we know, habit is second nature and the tendency to stick to old working habits can be high in some cases. And if the benefits of a new solution are not immediately obvious and they only become apparent over time, vision and good training are even more important. This, of course, comes with a cost. It is adoption costs that are the most common reason why training is skipped or done only to the minimum extent necessary. In addition, the need for training is usually greatest at the very end of a project, when financial resources and time are already exhausted.
However, more companies are realising the key role of training. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the amount of time U.S. employees spend in training increased by about a third between 2020 and 2021. At the same time, training is being conducted more efficiently – due to the greater involvement of digital technologies that enable online or hybrid training, so costs have fallen slightly. Unsurprisingly, the larger the company, the more likely it is to organise employee training. At the same time, it is cheaper for them. Smaller firms, whose budgets tend to be tighter, tend to lag in this respect.
The frequency of training varies by industry, but it’s important for all
The scope and frequency of internal training are also related to the industry in which your company operates. There are industries where without continuous upskilling of employees the company has no chance to “survive” because the pace of change is enormous. Examples include companies involved in the development of digital solutions or marketing agencies. For other types of businesses, such as manufacturing companies, training is usually not as frequent because their actual product does not depend on it to such an extent. However, when such companies implement digital solutions, they need to pay even more attention to training because their employees are not as digitally savvy and need to cover wider gaps.
Training should be designed to be reusable – and ideally should allow people to learn at different paces. “Think also that if an employee does not use a particular tool regularly, or needs an update on previous training, they may need what is known as a refresher course over time,” – adds Ratibor Líbal.
Training as an investment in employee and client satisfaction
Remember that the quality of your company’s in-house training also has a significant impact on the satisfaction of your employees. With training, you give them the opportunity to better understand the changes that are about to occur in the company and use new tools effectively plus, increase their knowledge and skills. The fact that they can develop professionally on the job also increases their sense of appreciation and engagement. Your main goal, namely, to improve the quality of your service, can thus have an impactful effect on your company’s environment.
According to research by Gallup, a consulting firm, nearly 90% of millennials ranked “professional or career growth and development opportunities” as important to them. “Well-designed internal training is definitely beneficial in many ways: not only does it make change run more smoothly and processes more efficient, but it can also significantly reduce employee turnover,” concludes Ratibor Líbal.
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