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Tips for Getting Employee Buy-In During A Digital HR Transformation

The success of a new cloud-based HCM platform hinges on how well it is adopted by an organization’s employees. The adoption rate is dependent on whether everyone throughout the organization is invested in the new solution and see its value to them and the organization at large. Asking employees to embrace change, however, is not easy, and the bigger the change, the more staff will resist the change.

Because of this, it’s common for employee buy-in to be a top concern for organizations that are in the early stages of planning a Digital HR transformation. This article will explore why employee buy-in is so important and look at ways to help address these concerns.

Why Buy-In is Important

When a Digital HR transformation does not get enough buy-in, it can lead to:

  • A slower, and more costly, transformation process.
  • Employees not using the tool to its fullest, if at all.
  • Erroneous data when employees don’t correctly use the tool.

There are four groups that require buy-in:

  1. The C-Suite. For a digital transformation to move forward, the entirety of the organization’s C-suite needs to be aligned with regards to the goals, strategy, and roles. The entire C-suite, not just the CHRO and CIO, needs to own the Digital HR transformation. Senior leadership needs to not only support the transformation process but also be its most prominent advocates, working with key stakeholders to ensure the right information is disseminated and that employees are getting the necessary training.
  2. Managers and Other Leaders. For the organization to realize the benefits of the Digital Transformation, the culture of the organization must support the transformation and the systems enabling the culture must be used. Managers and other leaders in the organization are important in driving the buy-in for their employees of the changes that are coming their way. In this way, they are a critical linchpin to the success of the transformation because they both must understand the benefits to themselves as well as the understand, and be able to communicate, the benefits to their teams.
  3. Employees. For employees to buy-in to a Digital Transformation, they need to understand the value it provides to them and believe they are capable of adapting to change. Both the value to them and their capabilities can be defined through the use of design thinking to define their journeys and define the impact at a personal level.
  4. HR Function. Team members across the HR function will use the new HCM daily and, therefore, the most impacted by it. If HR teams aren’t fully bought into the new system, then they will rarely, if ever, use it, making it hard to derive any value from modernization efforts. Their jobs may change as a result of a new system which can cause angst and resistance.  The true value of a Digital HR Transformation crosses many organizational structures and objectives, of which HR is the most valuable to the organization to support including: improved experience for employees, managers, and leaders; improved data quality and consistency among systems; better data and analytics to drive decision making.  Obtaining HR buy-in on their strategic importance to driving these changes is critical to the success of a Digital HR Transformation.

Naturally, a different approach is needed to get buy-in from each of these groups.  The buy-in of the C-Suite, HR, and Managers is needed earliest in the Digital HR Transformation, and required to support the employee transformation experience. Rank and file employees, on the other hand, are the largest of these groups and, depending on their role, will require different approaches to ensure buy-in.

Below are tips for getting employee buy-in for a Digital HR Transformation.

Tips for Getting Employee Buy-in For a Digital HR Transformation

Whether an organization is starting with a cloud-based HCM platform or undergoing a more comprehensive transformation that also includes finance, payroll, and more, these tips will help your organization to get the employee buy-in necessary for the success of your project:

Show How the New HCM Platform Benefits Each Role

Employees need a personal stake in the success of the Digital HR transformation. While they may understand how a new HCM platform can benefit the organization as a whole, or even how it benefits their department, they will be significantly more invested in the new solution if they see how it benefits them specifically. For example, gaining access to self-service HR could save them more time and hassle. Management needs to tailor its pitch to each role so that it is clear that everyone benefits from the transformation.

Actively Address Concerns

Asking staff to not only learn a new software solution but also change how they go about their jobs is a big ask. Even employees that see the value of a Digital HR transformation will likely have concerns. Acknowledging and addressing those concerns as quickly as possible is important for both getting and maintaining employee buy-in. It’s also important to not see all employee concerns simply as a resistance to change; their concerns may be well-founded and need to be taken seriously.

Create a Plan for Addressing Change Fatigue

According to The Conference Board, roughly 51% of those surveyed during their 2018 change and transformation conference cited change fatigue as a frustration. Even if employees are heavily invested in the change initially, maintaining enthusiasm and engagement throughout the months and years of a transformation is challenging. Maintaining project momentum and acknowledging wins along the way can help combat fatigue. Also, ensuring that employees aren’t bombarded with the word “change” too frequently can prevent fatigue. As Neil Osmond, a VP Analyst with Gartner, put it, “People come to work to deliver, not to change. If you’re forcing change on them, it can be really tiresome.”

Expect Resistance

Resistance to a digital transformation can take different shapes. In some cases, resistance can be active, such as an outright refusal to comply with new processes. In other cases, resistance can be passive, such as being slow to use the new tool. Correcting this behavior quickly is important, as is identifying the underlying cause of the issue. Is the employee struggling to understand the value that the new HCM platform can provide them? Is your organization overly communicating, resulting in the employee tuning out anything to do with the change?

Employees need to understand the benefits of a digital HCM platform, and they need to be invested in its success. To help address concerns, educate staff, and ensure  employees are on-board with Digital HR, consider leveraging Collaborative’s Organizational Change and Training services.

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