What is a digital champion?
A digital champion is someone in your organisation, often a volunteer, that helps promote digital initiatives in your business. They do this by sharing their knowledge and skills with colleagues or service users through demonstrations, seminars, buddying or shadowing.
Digital champions are the go-to people for digital implementation projects and are the first point of contact when colleagues or service users need support.
Digital champions can help to:
- Empower staff to use digital tools more effectively themselves
- Increase confidence, understanding and motivation
- Increase the overall digital skill pool
Why are digital champions important in social care?
Digital champions are important in social care organisations as they can help care agencies implement new systems and processes more holistically – ensuring that as new technology is rolled out, carers and clients can adopt it more seamlessly.
In our guide – ‘Implementing care software’ we look at the role of digital champions, along with helpful strategies to help your business adopt home care technology smoothly and efficiently.
What are the benefits of digital champions?
In 2020 Lloyds Bank’s UK Consumer 2020 Index estimated that 52% of people in the workforce lack digital skills in the workplace and evidence has shown that this deficiency in digital skills extends into the health and social care workforce. That being said, a snapshot review of digital skills and capabilities in adult social care, undertaken by lpsos MORI and the Institute of Public Care and Skills for Care on behalf of NHSX showed that 61% of those working in adult social care wanted to develop their digital skills.
Champions sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm through informal peer-based support can:
- Act as allies to their colleagues, and have a clear understanding of what information will best serve those in different roles
- Bridge the divide between management and front-line workers – facilitating two-way conversations
- Improve engagement – as staff are usually more willing to learn from a colleague than a trainer
- Take the pressure off busy managers
- Create a better culture in the agency – built on peer-to-peer support
Who can be a digital champion?
Most of the time digital champions are existing staff members that volunteer their time to help those around them. However, they can also be from outside of your organisation from groups that support digital skills from the outside in.
A good digital champion should:
- Enjoy helping people use digital technologies
- Like solving problems
- Be able to explain or demonstrate processes simply
- Not necessarily be an IT whizz, but be open-minded and quick to learn
- Have confidence answering questions and facilitating discussion
When should you engage a digital champion?
Establishing digital champions can make it much easier to adopt new technology and give your workforce the tools needed to better serve clients. And while it’s a good idea to always have digital champions ready and waiting, it’s crucial to deploy champions when you:
- Are considering introducing a new device or software and want to manage that change for staff and service users.
- Already have technology in place but you want to improve engagement and skills to make use of it
How to help digital champions meet their objectives
You might be sold on the idea of introducing digital champions. But where should you begin?
As a leader, you’ll need to equip your champions with all the tools and support to fulfil this role. So, what will you need to offer them?
- Promote digital technology as an enabler – getting behind the idea that technology can improve existing processes
- Take on board the views of the people you are looking to support, and let this guide the areas your champions should focus on
- Set clear and measurable SMART objectives for you champions to meet
- Recognise champions for the work they are doing – this might be through personal development plans or 1-2-1s
- Support your digital champions with a range of digital resources so that they are not overwhelmed by requests from colleagues
- Make sure that the training and the support delivered is bite-sized and flexible so that it can fit around champion’s day-to-day roles
Digital champions are a great asset for sharing digital skills and engaging staff and service users. They bring a wide array of benefits, helping care agencies up-skill workers sustainably, cheaply and through peer-to-peer support. Champions not only build a better more engaged workforce but help to improve culture by connecting people and empowering service users.