Jason Averbook, CEO & Co-Founder — Leapgen.
“Rollout” is a term that is often used to describe the process of introducing new technology into the workplace. The human resources department will roll out a new employee rewards platform, or the sales department will roll out a new CRM platform. When this happens, affected employees will typically get an email with a link, a temporary password and a deadline by which they must log on.
It’s interesting to note that “rollout” is an aeronautical term that refers to the slowdown process a plane experiences after landing, resulting in a state of rest on the runway. That definition of the rollout is not what organizations shoot for when they roll out new technology, though it is often what they achieve. Rather than building excitement, gaining momentum and getting a new tech tool off the ground, rollouts often result in confusion, frustration and an overall lack of engagement.
The problem with technology rollouts—which play a big role in the overall success of an organization’s digital transformation process—is that they are not people-first. In fact, too many digital transformation initiatives are tech-first, people-second. They focus on the tool and what it can do rather than on the value it will bring to its users.
This approach is causing big problems for organizations. Reports reveal that only 30% of digital transformation efforts actually result in a higher level of performance. Organizations are investing a lot in digital transformation and getting very little value.
Those looking for a solution to this problem must pay close attention to the implementation process they choose for new technologies. The issue is not the tools—they can help organizations to increase their efficiency and profitability as their manufacturers promise. The issue is the failure of managers and employees to interact with the tools in effective ways.
Here are two steps that any organization can take in the implementation process to make sure that new tech tools do not end up gathering dust.
Step 1: Communicate why the tech is important to all employees.
The process of transitioning to new tech is long and arduous. It typically includes acknowledging a problem, sifting through a wide variety of possible tech solutions, determining the most viable and fighting for the resources to make it happen. It also typically does not include the end user in any way.
As a result, new tech, from the end user’s perspective, is rarely perceived as a solution. On the contrary, it is more often perceived as a problem. It requires learning new workflows and developing new habits. If the payoff is not obvious, interaction will not be optimal, especially with platforms that are not essential.
To improve the process, tech rollouts can include campaigns that communicate why the new tools are necessary and desirable. This is part of shifting from a tech-first to a people-first approach. It is not enough to tell users how to log on and engage. Organizations must communicate why their interaction is encouraged to implement new tech effectively.
Tech solutions in the human resources arena can provide an illustration. A recent survey found that employees across the nation are frustrated with HR tech. These tech tools, which automate common HR functions such as requesting vacation time or enrolling in health benefits, have become so frustrating that 67% of employees say they would be willing to take a pay cut to work with more effective platforms and more efficient solutions.
The problem with many of these human resources platforms is that they are designed with the HR professional in mind. They work for HR but not for everyone else. Organizations must explain why the new tools are necessary to bridge this gap.
For example, paid time off traditionally involved two options: vacation time and sick time. Today, many organizations offer a wider variety of options, such as charity days, mental health days, non-standard hours, remote hours and more. Keeping track of these is a complicated process that benefits from the use of HR tech.
For the average employee, the simple process of emailing a request to a manager is preferable to learning a new HR platform. Some will continue to engage in the old process even after a new platform has been introduced. Converting them to a new process requires some communication about the increased workload resulting from increased options, the importance of an accurate payroll process and the way in which digitalization frees up HR staff to provide more personalized attention.
It will be assumed any new HR tech works for HR. What must be clearly communicated is why it works for everyone.
Step 2: Communicate how the tech will improve the employee experience.
Defining the “why” will explain the reason that the tech was introduced. The next step is defining the impact that the tech will have on the employee experience. Communicating how new tech will improve the employee experience is a critical part of the implementation process.
For example, transparency has come to be seen as a valuable tool for employee empowerment. Many of the new tech tools that organizations are rolling out provide increased transparency. Task management platforms show who is involved, what they will do and when their work should be expected. Communications platforms show when someone is online, when they read a message and when they are responding. For most, that level of real-time access to important information is a huge improvement to the employee experience.
Effective technology does more than improve processes. It enables the transformation of the workplace by increasing accessibility, flexibility and efficiency. Helping employees to understand that is critical to inspiring their interaction.