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Empathy is key to driving HR technology user adoption

Empathy is critical to improve HR technology user adoption.

HR leaders can get so excited about what new HR technology can do -- for example, save money or boost efficiency -- that they forget users might feel differently, said Robin Schooling, managing partner of HR and people strategy at Peridus Group, in a video interview at the 2019 HR Technology Conference & Exposition. Schooling presented a session on HR technology user adoption.

"End users have their own reasons for wanting or not wanting a new HR technology and may view it as imposing new tasks on them," Schooling said. "Their definition of 'better' may be different than ours [and] we really have to think about what's in it for them and temper that with our messaging."

Employees may want new HR technology to be easier to use, provide better access to information and go beyond basic employee self-service to give them the ability to "self-solve," she said. That means providing more research tools, among other things.

The new system should also give users access to career-development opportunities and a learning management system, Schooling said. HR technology can also help reinforce organizational culture through improved messaging and community-building.

HR managers should be aware of potential roadblocks to HR technology user adoption.

"Quite often we fail when there's ineffective training, inadequate communication and then we don't hold people accountable," Schooling said.

Companies need to start thinking about HR technology user adoption during the selection phase and try to view new technology and workflows from the eyes of specific users in the organization, she said.

"Bring some champions in from these disparate departments, and bring in some naysayers," she said.

Training should suit the technical resources and capabilities of the workforce. It's also important to keep track of how people are using the new system going forward.

"It's not launch and forget it," Schooling said. "It's constantly tweaking it, refreshing content, driving people into the system so that they go there as a destination."

A phased rollout can also boost HR technology user adoption because users have a chance to accept change in a more gradual manner.

As an example, one client deployed its human capital management suite over six months, Schooling said. The organization began with core HR and payroll, followed by benefits, the applicant tracking system and, finally, the performance management software. The organization tweaked the dashboard and user experience along the way.

"By the time they got to performance management, which was the most highly interactive piece, employees had been working in the system now for about six months," Schooling said.

They were used to the tool and knew where to find things, she said.

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