Employee resistance to digital transformation

16.01.2023 / Spasenija

The interest in digital transformation is rapidly growing every year. The spending on digital transformation in 2022 is projected to be 1.6 trillion U.S. dollars and it is expected to grow more than 50% by 2026 and reach 3.4 trillion U.S. dollars.

Most business owners realized that without digital transformation they cannot stay competitive in today’s market in the long run. Therefore, most of them started their journey toward digital transformation. That journey was for some of them very successful, while for others it was a failure. Those companies which were successful in digital transformation reported significant improvements in all aspects of their business – improved customer satisfaction, increased productivity, collaboration, reduction of costs and many others.

However, even though benefits of digital transformation are numerous, the percentage of companies which fail to complete digital transformation journey successfully is still huge. One of the main roadblocks on this journey remains employee resistance.

Every change is difficult, and it does not come as a surprise that people everywhere strongly resist them. Digital transformation is a fundamental change. It changes the way people work and introduces new roles and responsibilities. Employees, overwhelmed with their regular work, often fail to adapt to the new model and new responsibilities. Without employee engagement, digital transformation is bound to fail.

Even though employee resistance is difficult to overcome, it is not impossible. Below we will try to explain some of the main strategies that have proven to be successful in dealing with employee resistance.


Digital transformation is a complex process and learning about it before the beginning of the process can be crucial for its success. Managers should clearly understand its scope, challenges that come with it, and what resources they would need so that they can prepare the whole organization for it.

Preparation and encouragement of employees

Informing the employees timely about the changes you are about to make in the company is very important. This will give them more time to adjust and prepare themselves for the new responsibilities. Moreover, it is useful to appoint someone to boost employees’ morale throughout the process. This will usually be an early adopter in the company, open to changes and someone who is looking for more responsibilities in the company. That person can also help others when they are struggling with new technology and encourage them to move forward.  Providing incentives to employees throughout the process has also proven to be helpful. Those incentives could be different rewards given to employees based on how fast they adapt to new technology. However, you do not always have to give out awards to motivate employees. Intrinsic motivation can be an equal, or even more powerful tool. If employees feel like their efforts matter and that they are all working together towards achieving an important goal for the company, they will feel more motivated to be engaged in the digital transformation process. You should ensure that your employees understand how crucial digital transformation is for your business.

Find a reliable partner for your digital transformation journey

Introducing new software in the company can be stressful. It is important that your partner, or provider of the software has excellent customer support. Your employees will surely need assistance on the way, and it is important that they have an easy access to customer support when they have difficulties with the new software. If they just keep skipping problems because they cannot reach customer support of the software provider, their unsatisfaction will just grow over time and therefore they will be less likely to accept the new system.

Understand that digital transformation is a process

It is impossible to transform the whole organization at once and therefore digital transformation in your company will include more phases. Understanding that it will take time before your whole business is transformed will put less pressure on employees and give them time to adjust to the new system step by step.