By Susan Yeazel, Donna Hazen and Michelle Auchter, consultants, Point B.
It’s a familiar story among healthcare payers: Their companies spend significant time and money to roll out new digital capabilities for their employees, only to have the effort fall short or even fail altogether. The reason? People simply don’t engage, adopt or use the new tools and systems as expected.
While this problem didn’t begin with COVID, the pandemic has intensified the need to solve it. With remote work likely to be part of the new normal and employees relying more than ever on their companies’ digital infrastructure, existing gaps and new needs have surfaced. The challenge is especially complex in healthcare. As digitalization increasingly shapes the healthcare ecosystem, payers are looking to integrate new digital communication tools that support their ability to play a central role across the many different parties and layers of systems they serve—including customers, providers and partners.
There’s often an assumption that employees will naturally adopt new tools and technology simply because “they’re better.” But it takes more than the promise of a ”new and improved” tool to get people on board. We help companies take proven steps to improve digital adoption in ways that boost administrative efficiency, reduce costs, retain valuable talent, and improve the customer experience, which in turn leads to business growth. As an example, a company recently launched a digital program that employees rated 4.67 on a scale of 5 as being mission critical. That same program delivered a 263 percent increase in employee behaviors considered key to success. These numbers reflect high employee understanding and buy-in—both key to successful digital adoption.
Think, plan and invest in the employee experience
Think about the level of effort your organization puts into ensuring that externally-facing digital tools or web features are a success with your customers. How do you think, plan and invest to ensure that success?
While customer experience (CX) typically steals the spotlight, employee experience (EX) is nearly always the unsung hero to ensuring that companies succeed in engaging customers and driving growth. Companies that plan and invest in digital advances with this inside-out mindset are at a competitive advantage. We find they have a few key success factors in common:
Inspired and organized leadership: This is the #1 predictor of a successful digital adoption. Leaders need to be out in front – seen, heard and enthusiastically championing the value of the digital transformation.
Thoughtful preparation: Successful companies spend time upfront to really think through how they’d like to see this change unfold. What will success look like?
Active engagement: Inspiration and open, two-way communication are essential to engage heads, hearts and hands. Leadership can do much to support teams with the tools, capabilities and campaigns to make the digital journey as fun and rewarding as possible.
Make it clear: strategy, alignment and leadership
Before employees will invest in the “how” of digital adoption, they need to understand the “why.” Leadership must share a clear vision, articulate the drivers for change, explain the rationale for timing, and illustrate the alignment to corporate strategy.
Leadership needs support, too. Too often, there’s an assumption that leaders will “just know” how new ways of working will be done, even though they’ve never been done before.
Develop very specific tools that equip leadership to successfully lead the way, including a toolkit that details their role in the change and how to engage their teams. Equip team leaders and managers to understand the roles they play, how to train their employees, and how they will be accountable for their part of the rollout.
Plan communications and find ways to integrate them into existing platforms and venues. A digital initiative is a strategic effort that should feel core to the business, not a peripheral, tacked-on task that adds stress and hours to the workday. Getting communications right can go a long way to engaging people without overwhelming—timing communications right, wrapping micro-learnings into the communication rollout, and making sure every interaction is meaningful. Conduct qualitative research among employees to hear directly how they feel so messaging is personalized.
Connect with heads and hearts
Companies spend lots of time and money designing and developing advanced digital tools. But all that is wasted if they don’t empathize with the people they count on to make those tools a success.
Meet people where they are. Take the time to know and understand the diverse mix of employees involved in the initiative. You may want to develop personas based on their various positions, skills and levels of digital experience. Tailor your rollout and communication plans to answer the question on people’s minds, “What does the change mean for me?” Dive deeply enough to identify situations where employees may hesitate to ask questions for fear of looking digitally illiterate. Remind people that in a learning organization, everyone is always learning.
Engage people emotionally with the same high quality of creative strategy, branding and content that you’d use in customer communications.
Link wins to work, personal success and strategy
People succeed in meeting strategic goals when they see the connection between their work and the organization’s objectives. Making this connection takes a holistic approach to digital strategy and communications—getting the right message to the right employees at the right time and context. What messages need to be customized, even personalized, so they “stick?” By engaging people early in the digital journey and understanding their attitudes toward change, you’ll find some early adopters and enthusiasts emerge who become effective advocates along the way. This top-down/bottom-up approach is critical to improving digital adoption.
Digitalization is a journey, not a one-off. The investment you make now in your people sets up your company for long-term success by equipping them to navigate your organization through all the future transformations it will take to stay competitive in fast-changing marketplace.
Putting people first in your digital journey reaps benefits that reach far beyond the higher digital adoption you’re looking for. When employees feel their company is investing in them, trust and loyalty grow. That has a positive impact on how they work, reflect your brand, treat everyone they connect with—and how they’ll respond to the next leg of the journey. When you’re looking to get more from your digital investments, it’s what’s inside that counts.