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The toughest and most critical part of
Here are five key myths about workforce transformation in digital modernization efforts—and
Myth No. 1: Workforce transformation—brought about by digital modernization—means a loss of jobs.
The Reality: It usually means the loss of some job duties, rather than the outright loss of those jobs themselves. In digital transformation, it’s often the tedious aspects of those jobs that go away. Rather than eliminating jobs, transformation usually frees employees in a given role to do higher level activities now that they have fewer drains on their time.
Myth No. 2: Workforce transformation means that you must train employees about the new tools, such as with a user’s manual.
The Reality: You also must train employees how to function when the new tools change fundamental processes. Automation and digital modernization efficiently process, parse, and route data. But that efficiency means prior information streams may dry up—shifting the processes the workforce uses to get, convey, or influence information. In other words, transformation brings far-flung secondary and tertiary impacts to the entire organizational ecosystem that require training and new learning, too. Since that ecosystem will continue to evolve, learning and training are often continual, not one-time events.
Myth No. 3: Workforce transformation is a euphemism for reorganization.
The Reality: It’s more strategic than reorganization. While reorganization can often be little more than shuffling deck chairs or rearranging furniture, workforce transformation focuses more on the underlying skills the workforce needs based on the new technologies, processes, duties, and insights that advanced analytics brings. Such changes may indicate the need for different occupations, specialty areas, grade levels, and training, as well as new ways of allocating employees and even new roles for senior organizational leaders—all more foundational workforce issues than reorganizations require.
Myth No. 4: Workforce transformation is a short-lived human resources process.
The Reality: It’s a long-term leadership process. For the federal government to attract and engage digital-savvy employees, or those with private-sector experience, organizational leaders must develop and sustain a transformational digital culture. Even when organizations succeed in winning the “war for talent” by attracting digital-savvy employees, if those employees then find themselves immersed in an analog culture, they’ll quickly leave. As a result, leaders must proactively, and continuously, make sure that their organizational culture transforms along with its technologies.
Myth No. 5: Workforce transformation means doing the same work, but more efficiently.
The Reality: Workforce transformation is about creating the ability and agility of an organization to work in fundamentally different ways. Such transformation extends far beyond the digital systems involved in the transformation. Employees expect employers to use technology in new ways, such as to support flexible working arrangements. It should liberate them from the tyranny of a cubicle, rigid working hours, and in-person meetings, while giving them immediate access to the data they think they
To fully realize the benefits technology brings to digital transformation efforts, organizations must pay as much attention to their workforce as to the technology itself. Successful organizations can reskill and refocus their people on more complex, more specialized—and usually, more rewarding—tasks. These organizations are also better able to accomplish their missions. In short, focusing on workforce transformation enables organizations to let the new technologies do what they do