These days, almost every employee in every business needs a solid foundation of tech skills. No matter what you do or what your core responsibilities are, you’re probably going to be using computers, tablets, smartphones, and other high-tech devices throughout the workday. If you can’t handle these or the programs and apps that run on them, you probably won’t be very productive – and you might even pose a security risk.
So what happens when your existing employees fall behind? How do you manage employees with insufficient tech skills?
Hire a Managed IT Services Provider
One option is to hire a managed IT services provider. There’s a wide range of IT services available, from building and maintaining entire networks to providing supportive services to employees who need them. With the right IT services provider, you can put together a plan that covers all your technology needs, including the needs of individual employees who may require extra support.
With outsourced IT services, you’ll spend a bit of extra money every month, but you’ll also have a much stronger technological backbone in your organization. You’ll have access to better technologies, smoother and more usable systems, and an outlet for support when your employees need it.
Provide Additional Training and Education
You can also overcome tech skills gaps by providing additional training and education for employees. To do this properly, you’ll first need to identify exactly where your skill shortfalls are and figure out how best to close them.
These are typically some of your best options:
Formal classes. Consider enrolling some of your employees in informal classes that introduce them to the most important technologies in your industry. You can pay for these classes, subsidize them, or just provide incentives for enrolling.
Internal training. You can also conduct internal training, gathering your employees in one location so you can teach everyone at the same time all the basic skills necessary to succeed in a given department. This may take some time and money, but you’ll remain in total control throughout the process.
Shadowing and mentoring. If you’re looking for a more individualized way to provide training, consider shadowing and mentoring. You can take the people with relatively weak tech skills and pair them with people who have stronger tech skills; stronger individuals can serve as teachers and mentors, guiding weaker individuals to greater competence.
Tutorials and guides. You can also provide more tutorials and guides to your struggling employees, so they can learn to help themselves and figure out new technologies on their own.
Help Employees Adapt
Some employees fall behind in terms of tech skills or tech adoption because they never got a chance to properly adapt to newly incorporated workplace technologies. You can mitigate at least some of the effects here by helping employees adapt to new technologies.
Explain the benefits of each new technology. Some employees struggle to learn new technologies because they’re reluctant to adopt those technologies. But they’re going to be much more open and interested in new technologies if you can clearly explain what the benefits of those technologies are. When adopting new devices or systems, explain how this is going to make the company more effective or how it’s going to make certain jobs easier.
Prioritize usable, learnable devices and software. When choosing new systems and technologies, always prioritize usable, learnable systems and technologies. If things are easy to learn and easy to grasp, you’ll save yourself many headaches later.
Get feedback from employees. Don’t just assume what employees know or don’t know, and don’t assume what they prefer or don’t prefer. Instead, get feedback from them directly. Use surveys and interviews to better understand how employees are feeling and what they need.
Incentivize tech use. Some employees will deliberately avoid certain technologies they feel are intimidating or unnecessary to the job. Accordingly, you should go out of your way to incentivize the use of new technologies. How are employees rewarded for using the right tools for the job?
Celebrate wins. When employees start developing new skills and reaching new milestones, celebrate those wins. For example, when everyone is formally trained on a new system, consider throwing a mini party to positively reinforce this group’s accomplishments.
Hire New Employees
Of course, if you’re still struggling to close the skills gap, your best option may be to hire new people who already have the tech skills you require. Stepping up your recruiting and onboarding efforts can help you tremendously here.
No matter which approach you choose to take, it pays to effectively manage and improve employees with insufficient tech skills. It might take some significant investment and some significant sacrifices, but any path to improvement here will eventually pay off in spades.