Digital literacy: Is your workplace full of digi stars or digi dinosaurs?

digital literacy workplace Digital literacy, what is it? How does it affect you? How does it affect your staff? What do you need to do about it? And where do you even begin?

There are so many questions being asked about digital literacy and the ever-evolving technological world, we’re hard pressed to know where to start ourselves, but let’s give it a go!

So, welcome to this HR blast from Jaluch. Let’s see if we can give you a few pointers, tips and guidance about this phenomenally important topic.

Do you need digital literacy? Do you need employees who are digitally savvy? Should you be developing digital skills?


Someone recently told us that he was the only one in a Chinese restaurant who knew how to properly work the cash register. Others were inefficient he said, not knowing what codes needed to go in, how to amend orders etc. It was long winded the way they operated it, he said, and open to creating kitchen chaos with amended orders.

And this week some of our colleagues were turned away from Prezzo as the restaurant internet was down so they could not accept card payments, only cash. The shrug of shoulders from the manager told us everything about how helpless he felt in this age of technology! Was there really not a different solution to his problem? Hot spot not an option? A whole day’s turnover down the drain.

A lack of digital literacy causes financial losses, customer frustration and employee low morale. So it really is a no brainer putting the time and energy into raising technology know how and developing digital literacy and cyber security skills. If you have anyone, even ONE person, in your business who shrugs their shoulders or looks despondent when technology doesn’t behave, it really is time to start developing their tech know-how and confidence.

It starts at interview

Have you ever checked potential employees’ digital literacy before hiring them? What assumptions do you make about the digital skills of those you interview and would your interviewers even have the digital competence to be able to check someone else’s digital skills?

Take a moment now to really think through that last question because the answer you get to that is critical if you are serious about ramping up the digital skills competence and confidence in your organisation.

Human jobs are not going to be replaced, they are going to be displaced. Lower skilled jobs will be replaced by digital jobs.

And looking at your current workforce

With the level of digital literacy your employees have now, can your business work efficiently and to its full potential? Is it time to do a digital literacy audit (we’re able to help you with this or why not replace this year’s employee survey with an employee digital literacy survey?) and at the same time assess what your organisation actually needs to stay competitive, or even alive in this challenging and changing world?

In previous years, organisations have paid for employees to attend computing courses on specific applications such as Word, PowerPoint and Excel with the odd ‘how to manage email’ thrown in. Nowadays it is almost always expected of employees to at least have a basic knowledge of digital literacy, with employers preferring to select candidates who present these skills early on.


But if your current workforce doesn’t have great digital skills (outside your IT team of course) then why on earth do you think that all your new recruits will have them? Wishful thinking probably? Naïve even?

Or perhaps you think it’s enough to have 10% of your workforce competent with all things tech? Is that sufficient? What percentage do you actually need? In reality, its probably shot up to about 95% given how fast things have been changing. As we suggested in the opening paragraphs, even staff who can’t work the till properly in a restaurant can be a financial and customer service hazard. Warehouses, deliveries, shops, front of house staff, hairdressers, carers, nurses, even buskers – everyone needs to go digital and become more confident with digital. Two buskers on the London underground recently… one with a hat for cash, one with a tap and pay option set up on their music stand…which one do you think raised most money in the day?

Pause or hesitate with technology and you will sink without trace.

Jobs in UK sectors such as manufacturing and transport could be displaced by AI by 2037. An estimated 7 million jobs will go across various sectors. But if digital skills are developed the news is good as an estimated 7.2M digital jobs will be created.

Real People

  • And if we haven’t stressed enough already here are a few more examples of the hazards of low tech skills:
  • A man this week was in a car park saying you had to pay by card, but he couldn’t work the machine and was late to a meeting.
  • A woman was in a shop thoroughly embarrassed because the shop was no longer accepting cash but she’d never used tap and pay and didn’t know what to do or whether her card could even do it.
  • Another woman was complaining that she couldn’t join the online social group she wanted to join and that her GP had recommended to help with her depression because she couldn’t work out how to download and use the app.
  • And finally, another man said he didn’t want to apply for a new role because he couldn’t create a CV that looked modern, let alone work out how to upload it onto Indeed.

You might think this has nothing to do with you as it’s just people going about their daily lives – but you’re wrong! This is everyone, these are the people who we live next to and pass in the street and the people you might be interviewing to fill that next vacancy tomorrow after your organisation has morphed from email, excel and printed paper into a high tech operation.

94% of SMEs are struggling to find the correctly skilled workers (Open University).

Aside from organisational survival, what are the brutal problems if you don’t start prioritising this?


They have high expectations nowadays about ease of booking, paying, browsing, communications, social media presence etc and if you hold back with tech, your customers will simply go somewhere else that looks and feels more modern.


If your website looks old fashioned, your recruitment process takes longer than 48 hours, your font on your letters should have been banned long ago, you have no automated process to advise candidates of what is happening with their application, any potential applicants will see you as old fashioned and simply not keeping up with the times. Who wants to work for a business like that if there’s a choice? Old fashioned practices during recruitment equals old fashioned practices once employed.  The only people who really want to stay in a business that isn’t up with tech are those who are running scared from tech. Is that really who you want to recruit to ensure your business survival?


Tech enables you to streamline procurement, invoicing, expenses claims, easily check for fraud, monitor suppliers, manage pay reviews and bonuses etc. Tech can also help you manage the productivity of your workers as well as ease the management of their holidays and benefits. Every single person who can’t use tech, doesn’t know how to use the various apps they have downloaded, or who shies away from the software that enables the job to be done more efficiently, is one more step your business is taking towards annihilation by your competitors.

Does that sound brutal? Yes it does, because this is cliff edge stuff. Tech is no longer an option and those who invest in it and train their staff up will be those who succeed.

89% of Scottish farmers believe that having tech-competent staff is a key factor to boosting the UK agriculture and help it be more competitive on a global scale. Farmers need to develop the skills to take advantage of technologies such as drones and soil sensors.

Time to read on? If you do, below we have outlined below some of the government framework info…

What does the government say are essential digital skills for people in today’s world?

The government has created the Essential Digital Skills Framework to highlight what is needed in the modern world to improve people’s lives. They set out the digital foundation skills, which involve various areas such as communication, transacting and problem solving.

The full framework can be found here.

But if you don’t want to read that here is a summary:


Communication is one of the most important factors in life and in work, it is key to day to day life and without it, everything would be much harder to achieve. But even still, 20% of people in the UK can’t communicate digitally (20% is those who never use digital communication. Of course a much larger group are on line but not always sure what they are doing or how to do what they want to do).

Cultural and social awareness

Given the global nature of business and work nowadays and with people communicating so much through digital technologies, the need to be aware of the dangers of what you write and post online are ever present. It is extremely easy to offend people without intending to if you are not aware of online protocols or have no real knowledge of different cultures/religions etc.

Training staff on the importance of keeping their personal and work life separate is also important, as is training on how to cope when you inadvertently offend, upset or annoy someone online and that results in trolling, dislikes etc. Pretty much everyone in our society needs to be culturally savvy and resilient to feedback.

How are you supporting your employees with this?

Digital safety

Being safe online is not as simple as it may seem, the online world has a myriad of potential threats, not all of which your employees will be aware of. Your employee’s online safety should be a top priority, if it is not addressed you could leave your business open to threats such as viruses and data theft. Whilst some of your staff may be able to spot a scam E-mail, others won’t, leaving your business vulnerable to attacks from often untraceable sources. Can you afford to risk it?

In order to combat these risks and threats, educating employees on how to spot digital threats and how to establish passwords for laptops and USBs would be useful for companies. If your staff feel embarrassed (possibly in the presence of more digitally literate colleagues) about not knowing any of this stuff, remind them it’s normal and that learning something new everyday is something that we all should do.


Large companies process millions of financial transactions everyday. In contrast, smaller companies may only process a few transactions each day. But every organisation relies on these transactions to succeed and employees need to understand how to manage these transactions efficiently, effectively and safely. Training and building confidence is absolutely key.

Just 47% of working people have the essential digital skills for work.

Problem Solving

The ability to solve problems that crop up each day helps organisations maintain focus and achieve goals. But increasingly problems are solved most cost and time effectively, with digital tools. The question though is do your staff know how to access and use such digital tools. Could a lack of understanding of what tools are available hold your business back?

Online and Offline Collaboration

One of the digital needs for work set in the government’s essential framework is the need for citizens to be able to use digital collaboration tools at work…Trello, Teams, Slack, DropBox, WeTransfer, WhatsApp, Skype etc. This is especially important with so much remote and international working.

But which are safe, which are easy to use, which are intuitive, which enable international collaboration, which are free etc? Start using all these tools and businesses might get into trouble around the protection of data as it all gets too messy, but don’t use enough and your teams are probably not working efficiently and effectively.

The digital skills gap in 2019 could cost the UK £141 billion in GDP growth (Accenture).

Not sure where to start? Jaluch is developing a programme of digital skills e Learning modules:

From just £7.50 a person you can kick start a digital skills transformation in your business with our cost effective but engaging and interactive e Learning.

  • Phishing, Pharming, and Whaling – a 15 min e Learning module that helps build digi skills and understanding
  • Safe WiFi use – a 15 min e Learning module for all staff to protect themselves and the business
  • Data Breaches – a 10 min e Learning module to help people understand the part they can play in eradicating data breaches.
  • + 9 other digital skills modules available soon.

Take your staff Phishing with our e Learning to better protect your business. Click here!

The information contained within this article is for general guidance only and represents our understanding of employment and associated law and employee relations issues as at the date of publication. Jaluch Limited, or any of its directors or employees, cannot be held responsible for any action or inaction taken in reliance upon the contents. Specific advice should be sought on all individual matters.

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