How to Help Your Employees Embrace New Technology

Whether it’s an eLearning platform, employee engagement, workforce training – or frankly any type of new employee-facing technology – in order for it to succeed, employees must actually use it. Otherwise, no matter how great the tool, it will never deliver on promised results or anticipated ROI; it will instead, gather digital dust.  

Company leaders can easily get caught up in the logistics of deploying new technology: choosing the right product, integration with current systems, and rolling it out. Too often, we overlook one of the most critical aspects of success – employee adoption.

Whether it’s an eLearning platform, employee engagement, workforce training — or frankly any type of new employee-facing technology – in order for it to succeed, employees must actually use it. Otherwise, no matter how great the tool, it will never deliver on promised results or anticipated ROI; it will instead, gather digital dust.

Ultimately, new technology adoption comes down to successful change management and organizational agility. Let’s just say, it is human nature to want to continue doing something as it has always been done. Making employees learn something new is generally difficult. Nevertheless, ignoring pushback to change and forcing employees to adopt new technology through authoritarian leadership, no matter how well intended, is rarely, if ever, effective. It will likely have the opposite effect, simply bolstering resistance.

Instead, employing an empathetic, people-first approach not only can help drive adoption but also move managers and employees to embrace and love the new tools you offer. Here’s a simple seven-step plan to drive enthusiastic adoption of new technologies.

The 7-Step Plan to Drive Enthusiastic Adoption of New Technology

1.Consider employees’ pain points. Business leaders can easily become hyper-focused on the business value new solutions bring to the organization; things like improved visibility into KPIs, cost savings, improved management, or other bottom-line impacts.

But to achieve the goals, tech tools must also minimize user friction. They must be intuitive, accessible, fit within the existing workflow and integrate with the tools already in use, rather than create more work and more silos.  For eLearning and other HR tools, it’s not just about how they make human resource management or training easier – it must also make the User’s job easier.

One way to achieve this is to apply the technology acceptance model when considering any new tool: it must be easy to use as well as useful to the organization. By demonstrating you’re sensitive to solving the End-Users’ pain points, employees will be more likely to get on board with new technology.

2. Bring everyone to the table for the selection process. There are a lot of moving parts when implementing any new software or SaaS technology, and it’s difficult for one group or department to understand the full scope of how a new tool or process will impact others across the organization. There may be concerns that differ between various levels of the organization. For example, take eLearning, talent development and performance management – the pain points, concerns and training needs for administrators, managers, supervisors, and employees are all quite different. Ignoring these factors can lead to resistance among those who aren’t asked for their input or represented in the process.

To overcome this, bring a diverse group of employees to the table when making decision to ensure concerns are heard. Form a representative group of User types from across the organization to weigh in on the review and purchase decision process. You’ll also want to get IT involved to make sure the solution integrates with current systems; won’t cause conflicts or disruptions to other business services, and to identify obstacles that perhaps only an Information Technology specialist can see. Lack of a broad base buy in upfront will doom any technology adaptation to stall, if not fail.

3. Create buzz ahead of time. Business leaders are often frustrated by the lack of urgency and enthusiasm around the benefits of new tools. But in many organizations, they’re launched with banal – and sometimes even foreboding –announcements that focus on logistics: launch dates, preparation steps and expectations.

Instead, start well in advance with an internal PR campaign that focuses on the “why” for employees. Rollout an internal marketing campaign that treats employees like customers to whom you’re about to rollout an exciting new solution that will make things easier/better/faster for them. Enlist the help of influencers to help get employees excited about the new technology so that by the time it’s ready to launch, employees will be scrambling to be the first ones on the new platform.

4. Customize communications. With any new technology, the needs and concerns of employees will differ across the organization, which means a one-size-fits-all approach to communication will not work.

Again, being sensitive to pain points, use a communications platform that allows you to personalize the messages, and segment and target communications based on an employee’s role, location, job duties, and whether they are in the office, out in the field, or working remotely. Making the pre-buzz and deployment communications relevant to each employee and speaking directly to their needs demonstrates you are investing in their growth and experience as employees, not just in solving the organization’s challenges.

5. Customize training. Just as employees have different needs, not every employee will use new tools in the same way. That means it’s imperative to customize and adapt training messages based on their needs now and in the future. Don’t waste time on features they’ll never use; instead emphasize those that deliver clear ROI for their specific role, team or departmental goals. Offer training in a variety of formats and options, including online, on-demand and in-person, so that it’s accessible to everyone based on their situation. Build in frequent evaluations within each module to make sure employees understand and can apply the concepts learned, and you can adjust the content if it’s clear that they’re getting stuck.

Finally, offer frequent and ongoing refresher training to ensure employees know how to make full use of new and relevant features available to them.

6. Publicize wins. Most organizations implement new technologies in a phased approach, which is smart, but most often it’s done simply to ease the transition and avoid overwhelming IT with troubleshooting and helpdesk requests.

Instead, use incremental learnings from a phased-in rollout to demonstrate success. Gather data from Users at each phase and level to better understand ease of use, efficiency improvements, etc. – any metrics that show the product is delivering on the stated promises and expectations. Promote these wins through internal marketing campaigns that entice employees to be part of the next phase and anticipate their own success with the platform.

7. Make it part of the culture. While forcing adoption in a punitive way isn’t advisable, there is something to be said for subtle peer pressure. Once employees are fully trained on the new platform, engage managers and influencers to adopt it as the new standard for relevant tasks, reporting, goal setting and evaluation. FOMO (fear of missing out) is a powerful motivator and especially now, employees don’t want to feel left out or left behind. Instead, institutionalize the new tool by making it a part of your company culture.

Finally, throughout the entire process, one of the most important things companies must do is to listen to their employees. Ask for their feedback, both formally (through surveys or focus groups) and informally through casual conversation.

Sometimes, even with careful forethought and an eye on employees’ needs, the reality of technology just doesn’t meet expectations. Demonstrating a willingness to listen to feedback and adapt as needed not only sets a good example for employees, but also creates a culture of agility, adaptability and change-readiness, so that when the next challenge comes along, your team will be ready.

M. Lowrey Harton-Cowell is the Marketing Manager for Trainery™, a suite of integrated solutions for online learning, compliance and performance management. Email Lowrey.



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