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Three Human Barriers to Labor Digitization and How to Promote Buy-in

Veryable Editorial Team
October 1, 2021
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As a company decision-maker, you know that continuous improvement is critical to competing, and digitization is all but required to win in today’s market. However, stakeholders don’t always agree on the best way forward. Often the introduction of any new technology to your long-standing operations is a battle, and buy-in at all levels is necessary to maximize value creation.

Fortunately, the most difficult hurdle in adding a digital element to your operations is convincing your team that the changes you make today will protect the longevity of your operations immediately and in the future.

In this article, we’ll discuss three common objections to digitizing your business’s response to capacity constraints and how to address them.


Barrier 1: Operations Doesn’t Understand the Labor Paradigm Has Changed

Saying you don’t need a solution to capacity constraints is a losing argument over time. The labor paradigm has changed, and traditional methods for meeting labor needs are dead.

Rapid connectivity, digital allowances, and global experience has changed the way Americans look at labor. Meanwhile, many people working in operations haven’t noticed yet just how dramatically the labor paradigm has changed.

An emphasis on quality of life is driving the shift in worker preferences. Laborers want:

  •       Flexibility in high-attrition environments
  •       Opportunities to experience different skill sets
  •       Control over their schedule
  •       An ability to choose the work that they do
  •       Pay that reflects their development

This isn’t to say that your business doesn’t offer these. Rather, it’s the perception over the ownership of these qualities that’s propelling laborers to seek alternative options to traditional, full-time employment.


Barrier 2: Staff is Fearful of Change

cartoon of business leaders next to downward sloping sales and profit graphs saying what if we don't change at all and something magical happens

In an environment where change has been consequential for workers in the past, resistance to change from your existing team is expected and valid. Assuaging these worries is a necessary step for process improvement when implementing a digital solution. We call this managing to engage.

Talk to employees about how digital tools will transform their processes. A digital tool can simplify the value stream, and you can explain this in a way that highlights the value of the worker in this process:

“More people on the floor and more people assisting you in your processes will increase throughput and operational efficiency, meaning that your specific skill set is even more pertinent to our operations as we can now take on more business.”

If your workforce is putting in overtime to meet demand while your lead times increase and your backlogs grow, adding change to the mix should be welcome.


Barrier 3: Department Heads and Employees Think Their Processes are Unique, Creating Another Bottleneck

Some workers think their processes are so specialized that nobody else can do them. And while there is a uniqueness inherent in every process, the truth is, what’s being done is not so unique that nobody else could learn it.

Workers and department heads who champion their own processes against change are bottlenecks in their own right. In fact, if your processes are so unique that you’re unable to find adequate solutions to capacity constraints, one of three problems are most likely occurring:

  •       Your processes are outdated
  •       Your team isn’t thinking of the bigger picture
  •       Your team is unwilling to build talent from the ground up

Remember, resistance to change is a losing argument over time. Roman aqueducts took five centuries to complete, but Rome uses modern plumbing today. Just because they’d invested time in an older solution didn’t mean they quit innovating or embracing new ones.


How to overcome objections and promote buy-in

To drive change to your operational ecosystem, you need to be certain of the reason for what you’re doing, equip yourself with data to back up the decision, and commit up front to getting buy-in from key team members.

How you handle the initial objections can make or break your implementation of any new tool. Below are some tips for introducing technology to the workspace.

Map internal value streams

Find opportunities in your value stream that enable you to give a specific example of where your proposed digital initiative will make an impact.

Map internal value streams to show stakeholders where capacity constraints are and where throughput can be increased. Are skilled workers being utilized to their full potential?

A few questions you could ask yourself to kick off value stream improvements: Why is your best saw tech losing machine time on restocking their materials? Where can you remove downtime from your operations? How can you increase throughput?

Articulate the value creation of digital integration

You as a decision-maker have chosen a tool because you and the leadership team understand the financial benefits. The financial benefits are different from the benefits for workers outside of the office where that decision was made, however. You need to identify and communicate the benefits of digital integration to your workers.

Key leaders on the shop floor will be instrumental in getting buy-in from the rest of the workforce, so be sure to highlight for them how the new digital initiative will benefit them and their teams.

Highlight the value of digitization to workers

Reassure workers that technology and operational improvements won’t make them obsolete, drastically change their jobs, or make their work harder. They are still an integral part of the process and value stream. Digital tools are being brought in alongside them to support their processes.


Need a starting point?

A great place to start a digitization initiative is with the implementation of digital work instructions. This will allow you to easily standardize processes and break down knowledge silos across your organization. You will also be able to gather data on performance, which you can analyze to find ways to improve processes in finer detail.

Find your solution in our blog detailing the best digital work instruction software.

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Veryable Editorial Team

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