In the quest to streamline, analyze, and automate employee support processes, HR professionals have a multitude of technology platforms and tools to choose from. But how can they determine which investments are worth the expense?
Fundamentally, they must remember that technology is only as good as the people who adopt it. In other words, the biggest struggle in getting value out of a technology investment is getting people to use it effectively.
If HR professionals what to ensure that the tech they commit to is helpful and that it is used by the employees for whom it was purchased, they must engage in more up-front work before the investment is made. Here are some tips for HR professionals to ensure they get value from technology investments.
Ask whether a new technology is really needed by conducting a tech audit. Not only will tech audits most likely find redundancies, but they can also uncover previously unknown behaviors, such as which tools employees are using to keep in touch or whether they are storing their documents in different places. In other cases, a tech audit may help simplify work. Are there too many places to post and discuss information? Which of them are necessary? It may be easier to remove redundant tech than it is to revamp or deploy a new tool.
Take the time to understand how employees will use the technology. Often, HR groups purchase technology and then assume that people will be trained to use it once it’s available. This approach puts the burden on employees to uncover how new tech will or won’t help them—well after leaders have spent the money.
Instead, use a proof-of-concept approach to allow the people who do the work to experience the new tech and provide feedback. Find a pilot group to do some testing and report back. Any good tech vendor should be able to provide a way to do that. If it doesn’t, that’s a hint about what it will be like to work with that vendor in the long term.
Make sure the change comes from the business, not HR. One of the best ways to ensure that employees will be willing to adopt a new technology is to get buy-in from both the people who will use it and their leadership. This means facilitating a conversation about the existing needs of team leaders and how they think technology can help. It also means that the decision, as well as the change, involves people outside of the HR group.
Don’t move forward without a cross-functional steering committee. Facilitating the conversation about new tech and getting engagement from business leaders can be difficult. Everyone is juggling different priorities, with varying degrees of pressure related to key goals and outcomes. But it’s worth the time to consider the relative importance or urgency of making the tech decision to business stakeholders. If a decision is pending and business groups aren’t sharing feedback, HR leaders should escalate and insist that the need for feedback is critical to the decision. No feedback? No decision.
Avoid “facepalm” moments in the adoption phase. Another reason to involve cross-functional stakeholders is to ensure that all the requirements for the different employees who will use it—including managers or other stakeholders who are part of the population—have been gathered. The escalation process mentioned above may seem severe in theory, but taking the time to do it greatly improves the potential for adoption and is key to avoiding situations when entire employee groups ignore new tech.
Effective technology adoption—how many employees and groups are using it—makes a massive difference as to whether tech can be considered valuable. HR leaders must put themselves in the shoes of other employees in order to understand requirements and potential benefits—and engage with stakeholders to ensure they are the ones guiding the decisions.
Juliana Stancampiano, author of Radical Outcomes, is an entrepreneur and the CEO of Oxygen. For more than 15 years, she has worked with Fortune 500 companies, both in them and for them. Her firm’s clients include Microsoft, DXC, Delta Dental (of WA), Starbucks, F5 Networks, Avaya, and Western Digital, among others. Her in-depth experience, along with the research that Oxygen conducts and the articles she has published, has helped to shape the perspective that Oxygen embraces.