(Editor’s Note: Today’s article is brought to you by our friends at Qualtrics, the leader in experience management. They help organizations listen, understand, and take action on experience data. Mark your calendars for the Qualtrics X4 Summit. The event will be in Salt Lake City on March 10-13, 2020. Enjoy the article!)
In a pulse survey conducted by HRE, producers of the HR Technology Conference, almost one-third (31 percent) of respondents say their HR tech spend will increase in 2019. I realize we’re over halfway through the year, but that’s still a significant number. Because, when organizations purchase a technology solution, they want to know that people are going to use it.
I’ve written before about how employees are looking for a technology experience at work that mirrors what we experience at home. Technology is supposed to make our lives easier – both personally and professionally. From an organizational perspective, the idea is that a spend in new technology is going to improve the employee experience in some way.
At this year’s Qualtrics X4 Summit, I had the chance to hear from A.T. Still University, about how they implemented an experience management (XM) platform that achieved higher levels of user adoption. The key to A.T. Still’s success was planning a strategy that considered the employee experience before, during, and after implementation.
Create Employee Excitement Before Implementation Begins
While the business proposal part of the process is important, let’s consider it a separate conversation from the implementation strategy. What we’re talking about here is getting employees excited about the new technology before they even access it.
I’m reminded of the programs from my cell phone company. They tell me about the upcoming operating system release and innovative features which raises my level of excitement. I mark my calendar when it’s supposed to come out. That’s what looking forward to new software looks like. A.T. Still did the same thing by:
1. Creating a shared vision. In talking about the implementation, they communicated not only the organization’s needs but also the employee’s WIIFM (What’s in it for me?). If organizations want employees to use the software, then those employees need to understand how it benefits them. That doesn’t mean the company can’t also benefit. But employees need a clear and compelling benefit.
2. Identifying and acknowledging resistors to change. We’re not just talking about the Debbie Downers and Negative Nicks. It’s possible that the organization is implementing a new technology with limited resources and not the latest and greatest technology.
3. Developing an internal tribe. New technology isn’t an HR program. Prior to implementation, A.T. Still brought together a diverse group of employees that learned about the new technology beforehand and could have conversations with their peers.
Follow Project Management Best Practices During Implementation
So, now employees are excited to see the new technology in action. Once implementation begins, the focus of the user experience will start to change. It’s about making sure that employees know how to use the technology.
A.T. Still reminded us that self-efficacy is important. If I think that I can learn the new technology, I’ll keep trying. If I think that the new technology will help me achieve my goals, I’ll stay motivated. The implementation team should help users connect with the new technology through:
4. Building for sustainability. What I mean by this is that the organization’s new technology can’t simply be the “shiny new thing” around the office. The implementation team will want to find out how people are using the software, if there’s a strong user adoption rate, or if they might have to rebrand their messaging where appropriate.
5. Closing employee experience gaps. Each of us has a different level of technology savviness. New users will have obstacles to overcome. Experienced users will be anxious to know when new (and complex) features are coming. Everyone will need a little bit of training and patience.
6. Inspiring and not mandating. A.T. Still emphasized the use of their new technology by using it in high profile organizational activities. They also made sure that they held people accountable rather than just increasing the number of automated reminders that users receive.
Never Forget the Value of a Good Post-Implementation Debrief
I was thrilled to hear A.T. Still University emphasize their post-implementation strategy. It’s so easy for organizations to say, “Whew! Everyone – or almost everyone – is using the system, we’re done.” The truth is the real work has just begun.
Sometimes the big challenge with a technology implementation is keeping high engagement rate among employees. Here are three ways to keep the momentum going:
7. Celebrate successes. A.T. Still talked about making celebrations unique, themed, and ongoing. I love this. How many times do we say that for rewards and recognition to matter it needs to be specific and well-timed? That applies to group celebrations as well.
8. Keep long-term support. At the beginning of this article, I mentioned the business proposal. This is where the implementation team needs to work on maintaining senior management support. It also means the organization must make an on-going investment in the tribe or technology subject matter experts. This could involve going to a user conference or webinars, etc. to stay current with the technology.
9. Collect feedback (and use it to take action!) Speaking of subject matter experts, the implementation team should seek regular feedback – both formal and informal – from employees. This information can be used to plan upgrades and future projects.
I loved hearing A.T. Still’s implementation story. It reminded me that, while technology implementations can be challenging, they don’t have to be dreaded. And the implementation plan they shared with us is exactly the kind of list I would bookmark for future review.
P.S. If your organization is even thinking about how to use technology to improve employee experiences, check out this Qualtrics webcast on “Employee Experience Breakthroughs – The HR Technology Shift”. It’s not exactly the same as the A.T. Still story, but it connects technology and the employee experience from another perspective. The two will give you plenty of creative inspiration for your next project.13