17th Jul 2023
3 Min Read

Digi Digest | Reflections on the digital exclusion report

Tony Stewart
Tony Stewart
IC & Engagement

The UK’s Communications and Digital Committee had something of a mic-drop moment recently when it published it's Digital Exclusion report.

The headline included: The Government’s ambition to make the UK a technology superpower and boost economic growth is being undermined by high levels of digital exclusion.”

“The findings come in a report published by the Communications and Digital Committee. It finds that by failing to take decisive action to tackle digital exclusion the Government is allowing millions of citizens to fall behind – with multi-billion-pound impacts on economic growth, public health and levelling up.”

The report brings to light the systemic gaps in not just access to digital, but the capability to use digital tools too.

And of course, what’s reflected in the big wide world plays out in our internal communities as well.

Watch the video to see my reflections on some of the key findings:

When I heard the term “digital exclusion”, I couldn’t help but think of employee communities like those on shop floors or warehouses, folks who have low confidence in digital, or workplaces that simply have lacklustre digital channels.

And if the government is indeed allowing ‘millions of citizens to fall behind’ thanks to digital exclusion in the UK, it follows that a businesses’ lack of investment in digital – not just channels but support and access to use them – would mean that many employees simply couldn’t work, innovate, engage and prosper.

Looking deeper into the numbers, we can extract interesting questions for our employee communities.

“4m people are still unable to complete a single basic digital task to get online.”

What does that mean for your communications? Do you have a plan for those who have low digital capability?

There will be people in your business that struggle with digital, and their ability to access your communications, communities and online engagement efforts will have a direct link to their employee experience.

Consider and support them.

“5m workers will be acutely under-skilled in basic digital skills by 2030.”

When we talk about low digital capability, we might already stereotype who that might be in our employee populations.

But how many times have you been in a meeting with a senior manager – someone ‘well educated’ who’s essentially running part of a business – who breaks into a sweat the minute you ask them to post a status update on Viva Engage, and tag in a colleague?

And this isn’t about shaming anyone. This is about being aware that the digital capability gap is a real thing. Some education and handholding will be needed in every business. Who in your team can provide that support and help folks get the best of the communications tools that your company has invested in?

“7m households have no broadband or mobile internet access, and 1m people have cut back or cancelled their internet packages in the last year due to affordability issues.”

  • Can your employees access the new communications platforms you’ve invested in?
  • Do they all have work mobiles?
  • Is there a Bring Your Own Device policy?
  • Does everyone have the bandwidth and tech to play that slick new video of your CEO? Or maybe they’re in a warehouse surrounded by bricks and metal and zero cellular coverage?

Know where the gaps are, and partner with IT to fix them, or find smart new ways - like digital help decks next to coffee machines - to circumvent them.

As the Communications and Digital Committee has highlighted in its report, digital exclusion is holding the UK back from some serious economic opportunities.

“Overall digital skills shortages cost the economy up to £63bn a year.”

How can we, within our organisations, support our businesses to ensure the least amount of exclusion, and the greatest amount of opportunity as well as a positive employee experience?

    Have the findings of the report got you thinking about the digital gaps in your organisation?

    There's certainly a lot to digest and knowing where to start can be a challenge. Get in touch and let's chat.

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