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Is your CEO driving the digital strategy or simply delegating it?

A new report has identified that 47% of CEO’s claimed to be actively driving digital workplace strategy. This suggests an even bigger scope for more CEOs to take an active role in digital.

The report, called “Drive or Delegate?”, by the Economist Corporate Network (ECN) sponsored by Hays, is based on a survey of 500+ regional and country CEOs in Asia. The report also found that CEO’s regard a digital workplace strategy as, most importantly, a means to transform the business from within and to increase productivity.

Interestingly boosting employee engagement and managing talent more efficiently appear to be less important factors. This could be a consequence of businesses prioritising the digitisation of customer-facing operations over the employee experience in the workplace.

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“While business transformation is necessary, the employee experience should be a fundamental consideration when planning a digital strategy,” said Christine Wright, managing director of Hays in Asia.

“Technology today enables greater flexibility for when and where your employees work, in real-time and across geographical locations.Employers focusing on attracting and retaining top talent should place emphasis on creating an attractive workplace; one which promotes innovation, information sharing and working collaboratively,” adds Wright.

The ECN report also found that 70% of business leaders think it important to use social media, but less than half do so to engage with employee. Only 50% of CEO’s utilise social media to engage with employees, but the CEO focus groups also believe that face-to-face conversations, as well as events like town halls and internal corporate get-togethers should not be banished as outdated.

“Finding the right balance between the traditional and digital is essential for employers to foster a cohesive working environment between a connected mobile generation and those that bring a traditional skill set,” said Wright.

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Here are 5 tips for a successful digital workplace strategy:

1. Drive & communicate: Implementing a vision of a digital workplace strategy requires a CEO to be clear in their message. The report showed that CEO’s showing strong confidence in articulating the digital workplace strategy appeared to delegate less and drive more. Care should be taken to craft and communicate the message that a digital workplace strategy is an enabling tool for employees working towards a shared corporate vision.

2. Digitise, but don’t lose the balance: It is possible that too much can be done via digital platforms; don’t remove human interactions completely. Encourage managers of remote teams to speak on the phone regularly and maintain a pattern of face-to-face contact at various points of the year – particularly during appraisals. In addition, equip them with management training and tailored frameworks for managing remote workers in terms of conflict management, recognition and motivation.

3. Harness workforce data: Incorporating workforce data into your digital strategy adds an exciting dimension to your business. It will give you the ability to view your organisation’s talent pool from an analytical perspective. The benefit of mining such data for MNCs, in particular, can bring the business much closer to managing global talent pools. Analysing workers, tasks and projects could become an essential component of developing local talent and boosting productivity in emerging markets.

4. Manage expectations of a digital culture: Technology has blurred the lines between work and personal life and a 24/7 attitude towards when and where work tasks are carried out can be a risk. On the plus side, it enables greater flexibility for a work-life balance but; while a device is never far from reach, it can be difficult for someone to refrain from responding to a late night email or an IM from a colleague in another time-zone. To avoid added stress and employee burnouts, ensure your culture is fair and encourages downtime.

5. Don’t ignore social media: The report found 70% of CEOs think it’s important for them personally to be using social media. Social media is ubiquitous and increasingly the primary form of communication between people within and outside of the workplace. CEOs need to use social media to avoid becoming out of touch and detached from their workforce.

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