The pandemic proved to us how important it is for even non-tech workers to be digitally savvy. For the first time, “the way we’ve always done it” was simultaneously tossed out the window worldwide, and employers were forced to embrace digital tools like never before. Office workers needed to forge connections and be productive from home. Frontline workers were forced to do more with less, and learn digital skills in the process.
So, where do we go from here?
“Many organizations have found that the digital transformations they were forced to embrace are giving them a competitive advantage,” explains Michelle O’Keefe, an account executive with The HT Group Austin Staffing division. “The improved productivity, metrics, cost-savings and more are prompting employers to rethink the skills they seek when hiring workers in every line of business.”
O’Keefe points out that default tech skills are rooted in the basics like Google Workspace and Microsoft Excel and Outlook. But the key to finding the right candidates is to look for those who don’t just use the technology but who are digitally savvy and are capable of troubleshooting and adding skills as the technology evolves.
She adds that being able to extract metrics from datasheets is an emerging skill as well. Nearly all her clients use customer relationship management (CRM) tools like Salesforce or Oracle right now. Being “proficient” in these tools is a subjective claim. Someone truly proficient can do more than add data. They can extract metrics and meaning from that data. And that’s useful in every field, from sales and marketing to operations and logistics.
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Kristine Dery, a research scientist with the MIT Center for Information Systems Research, agrees that employees should understand more than just how to use workplace technologies, she says. They also should have the skills and the freedom to make changes to improve workflow or deliver the right outcomes to customers.
“Focusing too much on acquiring the right technologies without paying attention to whether employees have skills and are empowered to leverage value from them can lead to situations in which companies find themselves hostage to technology,” Dery says. “There’s a lot of opportunities here, and companies are leaving a lot of value on the cutting room floor by not investing in the experience of their employees.”
Striking the right balance can start with seeking a business advisor to assess your organization’s technical capabilities and audit what should stay, go, or improved. Then, in the hiring process, finding digitally savvy workers goes beyond checking proficiency boxes. You need to frame the job description, ask questions, and conduct assessments to identify candidates who genuinely know how to grow, adapt and problem-solve in a digital environment. The HT group offers recruiting & staffing services to businesses and job seekers in Austin, TX.
“Technology is constantly changing,” O’Keefe says. “The platforms that are used most often now may be outdated in no time. You need to find workers who are eager, successful lifelong learners and problem-solvers.”
The HT Group fills roles in Temporary Staffing, Executive Search, Technical Recruiting, and Retained Search.