Digital fluency describes the ability to use digital technologies effectively and efficiently in various aspects of life. In the workplace context, it refers to using available tools to enhance daily workflows and responsibilities.
Digital literacy is often confused with fluency, but they aren’t exactly the same. Digital fluency encompasses a much deeper, comprehensive understanding of learning new tools and then using them to achieve specific goals or solve problems. Additionally, 16% of the US population is not digitally literate, so companies need to be aware of how digital expertise affects processes and productivity.
Someone who is digitally fluent can efficiently operate digital devices and software, using them to accomplish various tasks. A digitally fluent employee can effortlessly use communication tools, business software, and mobile devices to complement their daily tasks.
A basic understanding of how to use digital tools has been a requirement for years, but now, employees in every industry need to become digitally fluent. Why? The world has changed rapidly in recent years, and everyone needs to change along with it.
Hybrid workers are here to stay, but without digital fluency, they may insecurely connect to company systems, use tools, struggle to maintain productivity, or not make the most out of what’s available.
Another concerning trend is the rise of cyber attacks involving social engineering rather than exploiting IT systems. A digitally fluent workforce helps create a stronger frontline against these types of attacks and can prevent costly data breaches.
Some of your employees are undoubtedly already digitally fluent — it’s become increasingly common as mobile devices and online platforms have become part of our personal lives.
However, you shouldn’t assume everyone is. Developing digital fluency throughout your entire workforce, from accounting to customer service, takes a dedicated and consistent approach. So, let’s break down how to approach digital skills training.
Building digital fluency won’t happen with a single course or a three-day workshop. Advancing your employees’ understanding and usage of technology takes time.
Continuous learning is critical for nurturing each worker’s technical skills. Preparing virtual environments for employees to put to work as they explore new technologies can go far in building a deeper understanding of what they can do and how to start using them in their daily roles.
Additionally, managers and trainers need to measure the results of trainee success and ongoing effects on other KPIs. Equipped with this data, you can modify training material or provide individual help to those who are struggling.
Imagine you were just learning how to use Google Docs. If you were given a PDF with screenshots and descriptions of different features, even something as basic as a word processor would seem overwhelming.
Instead, if you just open up Docs and follow instructor-led training or video guidance, you’d quickly learn everything you need to know and be ready to put it to work.
You’ll almost certainly be teaching specific tools that are way more advanced than Google Docs, and the overarching goal is to improve technological fluency. But the principles are the same — don’t just provide documentation; give employees a way to use different tools directly in a safe virtual environment. Let them experience and practice through doing.
Most digitally fluent people learn from other people, whether having friends show them or seeking out YouTube videos to acquire a deeper understanding of various topics.
Encourage your workforce to collaborate on projects when possible. Having a blend of technical abilities in the project will show those struggling to put technology to work on the project. Learning by working with someone else can go far in helping impart digital fluency.
You can also consider implementing a shadowing program. Someone struggling can go far by watching someone else expertly use digital tools throughout their workday.
A digitally proficient workforce can bring plenty of benefits to your entire company. We’ve touched on some of these benefits above, but let’s focus on how a digitally fluent workforce can enhance any organization:
Creating a digitally fluent workforce is a growing necessity for modern businesses. Providing ongoing, practical training with current technologies paves the way for the easier adoption of future tools. And you’ll immediately reap the benefits throughout your organization.