For local government, digital transformation is now an imperative. Faced with financial pressures and a host of challenges arising from years of budgetary cuts and a global pandemic, investment in innovative technologies is one of the only ways to maintain service standards while meeting operational realities. However, implementing new digital technologies is not all plain sailing. It is often complicated and requires careful planning and considerable strategic insight. It depends on buy-in from those in the upper reaches of the organisational hierarchy. Arguably more important, you need to get employees on board. Without their support, cooperation and commitment, the success of digital transformation initiatives will suffer. After all, digital transformation is just as much about culture change and evolving the environment in which we integrate technology as it is about the technology itself. With this in mind, we will explore several ways local government can get employees and stakeholders on board with your digital transformation programme. \tCommunicate your digital vision For digital transformation to succeed, you must clearly communicate the vision and objectives of the digital transformation journey. A lack of clarity results in misconceptions and unknowns, which can contribute to confusion (at best) and fear or active resistance to change (at worst). This is particularly true for digital technology, as prevailing narratives often concern how automation tools will replace human employees. A recent McKinsey survey highlighted that 76% of local government employees are concerned by the future of hybrid work. https://www.inform-comms.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/Communicate-your-digital-vision.jpg Local government leaders should explain how changes associated with digital transformation align with the organisation's overall strategy and take the time to address potential concerns. Transparent communication will help employees understand the benefits of digital transformation, dispel fears of job insecurity, and foster a sense of purpose and shared responsibility. In this respect, communicating the idea that digital technology is here to augment, complement and empower human employees is an effective approach. \tFoster a culture of continuous learning Digital transformation will require employees to acquire new skills, adapt to new technologies and alter their mindset. Consequently, local government must invest in training programs, workshops, and resources to help employees upskill and reskill. It is beneficial in two principal ways: \tIt helps develop an environment where new digital technologies have the desired effect and maximises their potential and value. \tIt reassures employees that there is a place for them within the organisation and demonstrates your commitment to their future. When you foster a culture of continuous learning, employees feel supported and are more likely to embrace digital transformation. Those responsible for driving digital transformation will play a critical role in establishing mechanisms that facilitate this and encourage the sharing of knowledge and experiences. \tLead by example and set the tone While digital transformation requires buy-in from the entire organisation, it is typically driven by a small number of people who are passionate about the project and understand why it is necessary. These leaders must serve as role models during the digital transformation journey. Demonstrating enthusiasm, embracing change, and actively participating in digital initiatives will inspire employees to do the same. Leaders should communicate their learning experiences, challenges, and successes to create an atmosphere of openness and trust. Leaders can influence and motivate employees to embrace change by visibly supporting and championing digital transformation. https://www.inform-comms.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/Lead-by-example-and-set-the-tone.jpg Importantly, digital transformation champions should not be drawn exclusively from the organisation's upper echelons. Instead, they should be representative of the wider workforce and include employees from across the hierarchy. \tInvolve employees in the decision-making process Including employees in the decision-making process is empowering and fosters a sense of joint ownership over the digital transformation process. This can be challenging, as you must balance employee input against long-term strategic concerns. You can generate employee input effectively via surveys, focus groups or cross-department teams to gather insights, ideas and concerns. Use this information to shape and inform your communications and develop initiatives that demonstrate the benefits and value of digital transformation. If you want to involve employees in the decision-making process, you must actively attempt to respond to and act on their feedback and input. If employees feel these initiatives are empty gestures, you can encourage ill-feeling and hamper attempts to get staff on board. \tRecognise and reward progress For many employees, digital transformation is a nebulous idea that can be difficult to pin down. It is also an ongoing process that has no definite end and requires constant evolution. Both factors can lead to employees questioning the validity of the process and whether they are truly benefiting from it. One way to counter this sentiment is to acknowledge and celebrate milestones achieved throughout the digital transformation process. Recognising employee effort, innovation and adaptability is rewarding and reassures staff that their work is contributing to the transformation process. Acknowledging progress can mean implementing a system of rewards and incentives that encourage work that helps the organisation realise its digital goals. It can include recognition programs, performance-based bonuses, or career advancement opportunities. https://www.inform-comms.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/Recognise-and-reward-progress.jpg What Next? Digital transformation is complex and challenging. But it is essential if local government organisations are to continue delivering for communities and citizens. Local councils will always require human agents to fulfil some roles and responsibilities, especially in services that require emotional intelligence, nuance and adaptability. Digital transformation is concerned with implementing technology that enables employees to better meet the demands of these roles while automating workflows and processes that do not require the qualities listed above. Employees need to understand this if they are to buy into the digital transformation process and contribute to the development of a new, digitally-driven local government sector. To achieve this, councils must focus on improving their communication, demonstrating leadership, involving employees, recognising progress, and fostering a culture of learning, education and career opportunity. If given reasons to embrace digital transformation, employees will do so. It is up to digital transformation champions to ensure employees know why change is beneficial for everyone within the organisation and to involve them in the process of creating digitally-innovative local councils. Our expert team have been providing customer self-service solutions for Councils for over 30 years. 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