Digital Literacy in the Workplace

Technology is everywhere meaning digital literacy is now more important than ever. But what is digital literacy exactly? According to Cornell University in the U.S., it “is the ability to find, evaluate, utilize and create information using digital technology.” It includes areas like online security, online communication responsibility, and digital ethics.

Digital transformations such as automation, digitalisation, and A.I. are also happening in the workplace therefore, digital literacy is crucial at the professional level. A study conducted by IBM in 2019 showed that “as a result of intelligent automation,” up to 120 million workers will need retraining or re-skilling.

As most positions today require technological knowledge, organisations must provide training and education on the subject or risk having the workforce being left behind.

Improving the workforce’s digital capabilities has numerous advantages for organisations. One of these is that employees with digital literacy skills are more competent in their work, as they easily identify important information/data/patterns and use them efficiently. This is important given we are constantly being disrupted by new information.

Digital literacy skills also allow workers to use technology to collaborate/connect with each other and thus strengthen teamwork. With a diverse workforce and 5 generations working together, working on these skills is also a way to avoid generational gaps.

Furthermore, training employees on digital literacy helps the workforce feel onboard and more confident in their work, which increases job satisfaction and engagement. In Oracle and Future Workplace’s 2019 study of 8000 leaders in 10 countries, 36% of respondents believed AI would enable them to learn new skills and 20% thought it would bring them “better/healthier work relationships.” An excellent strategy to expand digital competency in the workforce is to encourage teamwork and knowledge sharing practices. For instance, companies can create a buddy system to enable employees with strong digital literacy skills to help those who need to develop them.

Employers should also motivate workers to learn more about workplace technology. Surveys/interviews may be useful to understand the knowledge of the workforce on digital literacy and where further training is needed. Investing in new technologies is as important as skilling and training the workforce on them. Technology is the future in the workplace, and the workforce deserves an opportunity to keep up with it. However, many defend that companies should not be the only ones to educate about technology, as schools and universities should do the same. The International Computer and Information Literacy 2018 study, conducted in 14 countries, showed that only 19% of students can use computers as tools for “information gathering and management.” This shows how important it is to be digitally literate at this stage.

In the digital economy, the failure to upskill the workforce in digital technologies could lead to companies and workforces being quickly left behind. It is therefore vital that businesses invest in nurturing a digitally literate workforce, capable of adapting to evolving technologies.

References:

  1. How Digital Literacy in the Workplace Can Create a Stronger Workforce, November 2019, HR Technologist
  2. Future-Proofing The Workforce: Why Digital Literacy Is Key, July 2019, Forbes