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Efficiency through digitalization? How electronic communication between frontline workers and clients can spur a demand for services

March 2021

Published onMar 31, 2021
Efficiency through digitalization? How electronic communication between frontline workers and clients can spur a demand for services

This article studied a government employment service in Norway that was digitalized. Norway is one of the global leaders in digitalization. Therefore moving their job counseling service online is a prime topic for investigation. The investigation of those on the front line, the counselors themselves, and their thoughts on the system provides a more realistic overview of the system's effectiveness than those involved in policymaking and reporting higher up.

The counselors reported both positive and negative findings. Positive findings included: bypassing long in-person wait lines for clients, direct contact with clients via electronic means, less stigma for clients, and effective triaging to determine which client would need a face-to-face meeting first. (The digital system did not replace in-person counseling meetings, rather it enables better information collection and assignment of casework).

Negative findings included: the perception that counselors were, and should, be available 24/7, more documentation (as the client is now able to view their file online and wording has to be more formal and not in point form, etc.), and although the queue and administrative tasks are no longer visible to the clients, they still exist. This adds to the perception of immediate and any time access to a counselor without adhering to the required administrative process of information collection and assignment cases. Although digital services have provided enhanced service to both the workers and clients, it still has issues. - AA

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