January 21, 2022

Successful shaping of corporate digitization

Turning those affected into participants – how does it work? Take the employees with you to digitization! This is a common piece of advice. But how can it be implemented in the company? At what point in time should employees be involved and in what form? How do works councils deal with the challenges of digital transformation?

The new publication of the RKW Competence Center with the title “Successfully shaping corporate digitization” comes up with typical case constellations, possible solutions, and recommendations for operational practice. The team of authors is made up of members of the APRODI research association, funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the European Social Fund, and examines the topic in detail and specifically from a social partnership perspective. The new publication is aimed at everyone who is interested in or involved in the design of corporate digitization.

The hesitancy of companies in digital development, which is often criticized, is fundamentally not to be found in a lack of willingness to change. Rather, the speed of transformation and the emergence of fundamentally new technologies pose great challenges for everyone involved. In smaller companies, in particular, there is often a lack of resources for planning and implementation: decisions have to be made about significant investments in technology, infrastructure and, last but not least, in qualified personnel. At the same time, it is often not yet possible to provide evidence of the economic viability of the new technology. In addition, in the course of changing processes, more and more questions arise about a new work design.

New role for the works council
In view of the high speed and complexity associated with the digital transformation, corporate interest groups are called upon to overcome traditionally oriented co-determination and thus the predominantly “reactive” mode. They should deal more with strategic questions about the modernization of their operations since the course for the many opportunities and risks of technical-organizational change is set in the early planning phases.

Participation as a success factor
In the publication, different participation formats, from “information” to “co-determination”, are described and assigned to the phases of digitization projects. Based on key questions, readers receive support in choosing the appropriate instrument to be used in each case. The presentation of typical case studies from the industrial environment takes up a lot of space. These illustrate the previous recommendations based on current research. This describes the introduction of digitized corporate communication systems in which a socio-technical process model and the use of heuristics support the early participation of all those affected or a pronounced user perspective in the design of the technology.

The authors
Result of a social partnership dialogue process as part of the APRODI project. Partners from IG Metall, Südwestmetall, ZF Friedrichshafen AG, GITTA mbH, the ifaa – Institute for Industrial Work Science e. V. and the Institute for Work and Qualification.

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