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New technology roll-outs, such as an LMS or performance management system, are common for HR departments looking to make employees’ lives easier, improve efficiency and make better data-driven decisions. But when organizations fail to put a proper plan in place or take user experience into account, employees are bound to feel that the new tech is a burden or just one more thing they have to deal with each day.

Before implementing new software, it’s important for HR professionals to understand what they want the experience and engagement around that piece of technology to be like. And asking employees for feedback is an important step in this process. For example, a PwC survey found that 73 percent of employees felt they knew what kinds of systems would help them be more productive at work, but top management disagreed and chose different tools.

What else should companies do to ensure its people stay top of mind? We spoke with Jim Holincheck, VP of Advisory Services at Leapgen, about key practices, including understanding your company vision, thoughtfully designing the experience and creating an implementation roadmap.

What strategies can organizations use to gain a deeper understanding of what they are trying to accomplish, before implementing a new HR technology?

We do these exercises with clients creating what we call vision maps. A vision map is simply a vision statement that embraces what the overall experience is that you’re trying to create for your workforce.

We also identify guiding principles, the things that would help you to understand whether or not you are achieving that vision. It could be ‘simple,’ ‘sustainable’ or ‘personalized’—any descriptor of what that experience would be like. Then, for each of those principles, we identify attributes. What are the things we’re going to do in delivering the experience that needs to be there? What can you measure to understand that you’re delivering on the experience you want? Unless you have agreement around those things, then you can’t take the next step and get to the next level of detail.

Who should be involved in this process?

It depends on the scope of what you’re trying to do. A lot of times, we’ll do what we call discovery. Discovery may be with people around the HR organization, but it’s also typically doing direct research with the employee/manager populations [via] surveys and focus groups. We also look beyond HR to operations to get their perspective on what experience means.

How can organizations design a better user experience around a new technology?

We do a lot of work helping our clients understand different personas within their organization. You can use this understanding of different types of workers as a proxy to understand what kind of experience they want. Then, look at the journeys they would want to take for things that are important. Starting there allows you to have empathy because you attempt to understand their point of view, friction points and opportunities for improvement.

What advice do you have for determining what to focus on?

The biggest thing I usually run into is prioritization. There’s a vast universe of things you can improve, so how do you pick where to start? There are three questions I use to help clients navigate that. First, what do you want to be great at versus just okay at? Think about what you need from the services you’re delivering to your people as an HR organization. Second, is it something that really matters to your workforce? There are a lot of things that matter, but there are certain things that are going to matter more, because if employees have a bad experience, it’s going to stick with them. Lastly, does what you want to be great at have high business value? If you can find all three of those, that’s a really good place to start.

After working through these steps, how should organizations kick off an implementation?

It can depend on many factors. For some, they might find the technology they have isn’t what they need to deliver the experience they want, so they need to select a new technology. For others, they may have a great technology in place, but maybe they need to tweak how they are using it or think about it differently. And a lot of it depends on budget and resources.

What common challenges do organizations face during implementation?

A lot of times, what I find, even with cloud technologies, is that customers have this big rush to go live, and they may not adopt any new features for 12, 24 or even 36 months. Vendors like Cornerstone are coming out with all kinds of great stuff that organizations are not leveraging that they could be to deliver better experiences.

Sometimes organizations underestimate the time and effort they need to put in on an ongoing basis and the resources to continue to get value. It’s not just one project, and you’re done. You should think about multiple different releases of capabilities that would enhance the experience over time.

What ROI or results should organizations be thinking about?

Typically, if it’s a new technology or a new investment, there’s a business case you develop that should align with the vision map. If you’re going to buy something, it should help you achieve the goals that you set. Then, consider how you measure progress toward that vision while continuously improving on delivering experience.

If you do all those things, looking back at the business case, ask: What are we delivering? Did we make the right assumptions that if we make this investment and improve these measures that we will get these results? Hopefully that is true. If not, then you need to course-correct.

Photo: Creative Commons