How new starters can hit the ground running thanks to digital adoption
By Vivek Behl, Digital Transformation Officer, WalkMe
As of late 2023, most university graduates will be searching for jobs, applying for graduate schemes, and generally hustling to enter the workforce – if they haven’t already found a role. There is an argument that part of universities’ purpose is preparing students to face the rigours of working life. Yet when it comes to certain aspects, such as workplace technology, that very often isn’t the case – and nor should it be.
Outside of very specific cases, the technology students use is often simpler and more consumer-friendly than that used in professional settings. This perhaps goes some way to explaining the so-called ‘tech shame’ phenomenon. Younger staff who are assumed to be tech savvy off the bat – especially those in Gen Z – feel ashamed by their inability to use workplace tech. This leads to a reluctance to admit mistakes or ask for help, and so issues and mistakes are left to fester.
It’s clear that businesses need to level the playing field. New graduates need to be able to quickly engage with technology on the same footing as staff who have developed institutional knowledge of a business’s unique apps and workflows.
Adapting to the workplace through adoption
Nobody expects universities to train students to use every possible piece of software they’ll encounter. And while helping new hires settle into their jobs is crucial, businesses want to avoid spending time training and upskilling for every one of the tens of applications that employees will use in their working week.
At the same, businesses cannot expect new hires to learn on the job, especially when this will inevitably affect colleagues who have to step in and help or compensate for issues. Instead, organisations should focus on digital adoption: ensuring that every piece of software is actually used and understood by all staff. This should happen from the moment they join the company, freeing both employer and employee to focus on their core roles instead of training for specific applications which constantly evolve anyway.
This digital adoption-driven approach will take several stages to be successful. First, there is discovery – understanding exactly what applications the business uses, who uses them, and for what purposes. The business can then analyse these applications to understand how employees really use each of the software investments they’ve made. What are the common points of failure? What are the workflows? Where, ultimately, do employees struggle and are these investments leading to more productive, easier work?
Armed with this information, employers can then put measures in place to help employees overcome these hurdles. A digital adoption platform (DAP) sits on top of all the software and applications at an organisation providing customised user guidance and automation across workflows and applications as well as click-by-click data insights into usage. DAPs enable real-time insights into employee user behavior across a tech stack in the context of workflows specific to an organisation and the ability to deploy intelligent solutions right when and where employees need it right on their screens. The upshot is that new hires can jump straight into using workplace software, whether they’re faced with standard office applications, a bespoke app for booking time off, or industry-specific pieces of software, such as the SolidWorks design system used by engineers.
This won’t entirely remove the need for training, or for experienced employees to share their knowledge. But it does mean that more experienced staff can focus on high priority tasks instead of managing technology issues. This approach also provides more practical and long lasting support for new hires and existing employees alike as they navigate the many applications needed in today’s digital workplace.
Helping new hires – before they’re hired
It’s worth noting that the same principle applies to universities before new hires have even entered the workforce. To be clear, the main purpose of university is teaching and research. Just as in the workplace, time spent training and acclimatising to new technology is a distraction.
With the right approach to digital adoption, universities can help students avoid getting bogged down in technology struggles. Instead, students are freer to focus on what really matters: developing the subject-specific knowledge and critical thinking skills that’ll serve them at work, and in life. Whatever subject a student is studying – whether maths, literature, philosophy, or programming – universities can make that subject the sole focus, without tech issues getting in the way.
Bridging the chasm
The bottom line is that with businesses’ tech stacks growing year-on-year, a chasm is developing between the moderate tech-savvy required of students, and the greater tech-savvy required of new hires.
But by emphasising digital adoption from the moment a new hire starts, this chasm can be bridged, and the tech shame phenomenon laid to rest. Businesses will also benefit from the productivity and employee satisfaction gains of supporting their employees on-screen needs from the start.