Written by Kronos intern Amanda Martineau. Amanda is an intern working with the SMB product marketing team on outreach, content marketing, and content development. She will be returning to the University of Massachusetts Lowell this fall where she is majoring in marketing & management.

Although often overlooked, user adoption is one of the most important considerations in purchasing new workplace technology. This is especially true with HCM technology, since its whole goal is to execute and track common employee processes and give employees access to the information they care about in a single location, which only works if employees participate in the system. If you can’t drive successful adoption of new technology within your organization, then no matter how good your ROI looks on paper, the money spent was all for nothing. After all, what good is something if it never actually gets used? 

Despite a pattern of significant increase in spending on new technologies in the past two decades, many businesses are actually seeing their productivity slow down due to the underutilization of technology by employees. What’s causing this underutilization? A recent study done by the Workforce Institute here at Kronos found that the heart of this problem may lie with the impact of consumer technology on employee expectations.

Consumer technology has become effortless and instant, creating increased expectations for technology among employees. Yet workplace technology continues to lag behind consumer technology. This is because much of what companies are investing in technology is actually going towards sustaining legacy technology instead of new. 

In fact, the study found that more than half of all employees surveyed worldwide agree it is easier to search for new movies on Netflix than to check the details of their employee benefits and that more than a third feel their job is harder than it should be because of outdated processes and legacy technology. This poses a real threat to employee experience for HR professionals. 

Aside from its negative impacts on employee experience and satisfaction, low user adoption is also becoming increasingly costly for businesses, with a recent study done by Genpact Research Institute finding that of nearly $600 billion spent on digital projects, almost $400 billion of it was invested in projects that fell short of expectations and returns on investment.

In order to avoid these pitfalls, a user adoption strategy must be implemented that balances new technology investment with employee experience. Here are 4 tips for doing just that. 

Man riding bike freehand - path to least resistance concept

1.    “Keep it simple, stupid”

Although this saying was originally coined by the Navy, I think it goes a long way in describing how new workplace technology should be introduced. The easier something is to understand and use, the more likely it is to be adopted and utilized. To achieve this, make sure your HCM technology is consumer-grade – designed to be appealing to users and able to support mobile self-service features and artificial intelligence tools

The K.I.S.S acronym should also be kept in mind when designing training for employees on new technology. Training is a critical component of any successful implementation and adoption strategy and should be kept as simple as possible. Otherwise, employees see new technology as a four-letter word spelled “work” and will be reluctant to adopt it. One great way to make learning new technology more personal for employees is assigning early adopters to your new technology who can then train the wider workforce. This also fosters internal networking and mentorship. 

2.    Communicate value 

Don’t just tell your employees change is coming; tell them why. By expressing the value added by implementing new technology, employees will be more eager to get on board. You should cover: 

•    What problems the new solution will solve for employees
•    How it will solve them 
•    How the new technology ties into the overall company strategy

Along with communicating the value behind the new technology, you should also be sure you’re communicating with employees on all levels of your organization and across functions. Updating lower-level employees as well as top management on the progress of your new technology implementation plan will build a sense of trust and transparency. Also, your value message may have to change between different functional audiences. Pain points change across different business sectors. What’s important to one sector may not be as important to another. 

3.    Flip the feedback funnel

After finally implementing your new HCM technology, or any other major system upgrade for that matter, it’s crucial to collect feedback. But instead of collecting feedback from top management only, gather information on the needs of your employees from low-level upward. That way, you’ll get a more authentic perspective of the chain reaction your technology is having all the way down to the hourly front-line employee. Staying open to feedback at every level helps employees feel listened to and will likely boost their engagement in the new technology. Some key questions you can ask are:  

•    Is the technology solving the problems it promised to?
•    What features are beneficial?
•    What features can be improved? 
•    Is the technology vendor offering satisfactory customer service? 

Ideally, feedback questions should be focused around leveraging the full potential of your new technology and its user experience. 

4.    Go from passenger to pilot

As some of you may have already learned the hard way, even after all the aforementioned steps are taken, your user adoption strategy can still fail. That’s because if there’s one thing that’s constant in life, it’s resistance to change. People tend to cling stubbornly to the things that were once the source of their success, even if they aren’t now. That is why a change management process is vital to your user adoption strategy. A change management plan will minimize the impact change can have on your business model, employees, customers, and other stakeholders. 

Don’t make the mistake of sitting back and acting like a passenger during the technology selection period. Instead, drive the change by identifying if your technology vendor offers a pilot program to test logistics, prove value, and reveal inadequacies before spending time, energy, and money on the project. A pilot program can boost your change management process by helping workers get comfortable with the new technology early on and allowing them to participate in decisions about how it will be implemented. 

In summary

At the end of the day, choosing a new HCM solution boils down to selecting a vendor who offers the right features and services for your organization. Implementing new technology poses a major risk to employee experience and your bottom line. Remembering these simple steps and asking the right questions before selecting a technology vendor  can help you mitigate these risks and enable successful user adoption of your workplace technology. 

Published: Tuesday, March 19, 2019