Why Your Employees Aren’t Using Your HR Tech — and How to Encourage Them to

Here’s how to convince employees that HR tech will ultimately make their jobs easier, faster, and better.

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Help employees overcome their worries about new technology with these tips

You’ve done your research and purchased the best tech available for your HR team, or you’ve outsourced rote tasks to make their job easier. The ball is now in their court to leverage the latest tool, but they’re reluctant — even resistant to making the change. For some staff members, who encouraged you to make the leap to technology, the transition is easier. For others, it’s more of a challenge.

From the least costly to the most high-end, tools aren’t worthwhile if no one is using them. Moving HR staff to use the tech available to them requires understanding why they’re hesitant, and overcoming those obstacles. Eyes will need to stay on the prize: when you explain how the tech will ultimately make their job easier, faster, and better, they’ll be more interested in making the change and more excited about getting up to speed quickly.

Why the resistance?

What employers have to translate is that the change is beneficial to the company and the employee. That new tech will make their job easier, not redundant.

There may be many reasons why employees are not welcoming new technology with open arms. Fear of failure and fear of technology are only two. Some staff members make the assumption that new systems mean more work: others worry they will be replaced. What employers have to translate is that the change is beneficial to the company and the employee. That new tech will make their job easier, not redundant.

Fear of failure 

For many workers, fear of failure can be crippling. They’re comfortable doing things a certain way, and confident in their competence doing so. Adding a new method, particularly one that’s technological, can be intimidating. Your job will be to assure them you’re aware there’s a learning curve. You don’t expect them to be fluent overnight or find (and repair) glitches in the system on their first day. There will have to be training and there will be hiccups along the way. But in the end, it will be worth their time and effort to learn something new.

Fear of technology

Even the most tech-savvy worker has a learning curve with new systems: for those who aren’t junior coders, tech fear can be legitimate. No one wants to look foolish: learning a new system puts everyone in a vulnerable position. Some will refuse to ask questions, even when they’re struggling, because they worry it will make them look silly or unskilled. Others will leap in, assuming they know more than they do, to appear confident and competent — only to have their mistakes come back to haunt them.

The role of business leaders is to bring in training along with the tech: whether from an outside source or with online tutorials. Some systems will require more skills acquisition. Others will be a few hours of initial training, then repetitive use to become proficient. Finding the right training for each staff member, based on their skill set and comfort level, will be key to making sure everyone gets to the same fluency goal, no matter how many steps need to be taken along the way.

Oh great, more work for me

Employees may worry that adding new systems will mean a heavier workload: and in the short term, they may be right. Learning something new will take time away from other duties. If the time spent learning isn’t recouped in time saving down the line, it might not be a worthwhile endeavor. But if the time spent learning today means a lighter workload tomorrow, particularly if the tech is taking work off your desk or managing rote tasks, it’s an investment in your future.

You’ll want to translate not just that learning this is necessary, but the WIIFM — what’s in it for me — of the equation. Telling your benefits team you’re moving annual enrollment to an online provider will be received with tears of joy: letting them know there will be data to upload to shift the burden elsewhere will be time they’re itching to put in. For this kind of tech, it’s an easy sell. For other software and platforms, it might be harder to show the long-term gain. Make sure they understand clearly how it benefits them and the business, and that the investment in learning is worthwhile to overcome this obstacle.

Training my tech replacement?

Another area that may spark hesitancy is the worry that the technology will replace the employee. Letting staff members know this isn’t the case will be key to buy-in. Do robots replace people? Yes, in production lines. In HR, there are so many roles to fill, most more important than screening resumes and running payroll. Show your team their skills are more valuable with talent management and development than rote tasks. Assure employees that technology isn’t replacing them — it’s replacing their time-draining tasks so they have more energy for high-value ones.

No tech, no matter how sophisticated, runs in a vacuum; it relies on input from humans to keep it working and interpretation from humans to make it useful. In HR this is even more pronounced. You may enter mountains of data into a system, but it takes a human to understand it and act upon it. HR tech isn’t a replacement, it’s an enhancement.

Assure employees that technology isn’t replacing them — it’s replacing their time-draining tasks so they have more energy for high-value ones.

Tech access 

An area for concern and hesitancy may be access to the technology itself. Training people, or asking for them to become fluent, in tech they don’t use routinely is self-defeating. Your biggest software purchase is useless when the old desktop isn’t fast enough to run it. Point-of-sale tech isn’t worth buying unless employees use it (and get fluent in it) regularly.

Make sure the tech you buy isn’t making the tech you own seem sluggish and obsolete. For those workers not tethered to a desk, make sure tech is mobile-optimized. Many workers are more comfortable on their phones than on a laptop, so if tech works either way, they’re more likely to give it a try.

Listen for legitimate concerns

Sometimes the tech you purchase isn’t what was advertised. The sales pitch made it seem like a 3rd grader could do it, but in actuality, it requires graduate levels of expertise. Ask employees why they’re not using it — they may have legitimate concerns and questions. If you can, work with the vendor to overcome the issues or provide more training. In some cases, you may need to throw in the towel, but for most situations there is a solution.

What have you got to lose? 

The challenge for business is to sell employees on the benefits of using tech, especially tech they’re avoiding. Just putting it out there, without benefit, context, or assistance doesn’t help anyone. They don’t know how to use it or can’t find out how to learn, so they don’t — but you’re stuck paying the bill. When they understand the end game is to make work easier for them and that you’re willing to get them there at their own pace, they’ll be more amenable to tackling whatever system you throw their way.

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