Rolling Out New HR Tech? Try These 4 Proven Approaches

October 26th, 2017

Jon-Mark Sabel

News, Recruiting Teams

You’ve bought a brand new HR Technology - great! You’ve spent hours reading case studies, scouring third-party review sites, and asking for recommendations in online groups and forums. Deciding to invest in a new solution is, in and of itself, a substantial time investment.  Now how do you get people to use it? Your end users have not performed the same painstaking research. Some might even oppose your decision. Getting the end user on board is the most critical aspect of the investment, but it is often overlooked when the purchasing decision is made.  In this article you'll learn four field-tested approaches to rolling out your brand new HR Technology and getting the best possible return on your investment.

The Three Levels of Employee Enthusiasm

When implementing a new tool, solution, or process, there are three types of end users:

  1. The Promoter. Promoters love the new way of doing things, and optimistically incorporate the new solution into every relevant aspect of their work. 
  2. The (Passive) Adopter. Initially skeptics, Passive Adopters will use the tool with time, often only at the bare minimum. Eventually can be swayed by Eager Adopters.
  3. The Detractor. Detractors are committed to the old way of doing things and will resist the new way until the very end. If they can be persuaded to give the new way a try, they often see its merits and stop actively opposing it.

For the sake of completeness, it should be mentioned that while it is conceptually useful to bucket end users into three distinct camps, people are not easily “bucketable” in practice. Every user will fall somewhere on the spectrum of “Eager Promoter” to “Detractor,” and most people will be a mix.  At HireVue, we have the opportunity to see a number of unique methods TA departments use to convert Detractors into Adopters, and Adopters into Promoters. The following are four approaches that we’ve seen work in the field, both for HireVue and for other HR Tech.

1) The “Pull” Approach

With the “Pull” approach, you’ll be putting the solution almost solely in the hands of Promoters. Since Promoters are going to get the most use out of it anyway, they make a great internal “case study” for an organization-wide rollout.  By displaying the full scale of a technology's benefits, Promoters pull more passive Adopters into the "Promoter" category. Those Adopters, in turn, pull Detractors into the "Adopter" category.  This is the method Dr Pepper Snapple used to accelerate their internal adoption of HireVue. By selectively putting it in the hands of internal Promoters, Dr Pepper Snapple ensured the solution was fully leveraged. Other members of their recruiting staff then saw the benefits (decreased time to fill, increased quality of hire) and asked to be brought on board.  In the process, Dr Pepper dropped recruiter turnover from 30% to 5%. If you're interested in how, watch their webinar "Solving Speed and Quality Issues in High Volume Recruiting" linked above (discussion of the "Pull" approach starts around the 16-minute mark).

2) The “Push” Approach

The “Push” approach simply makes the solution mandatory. When a new technology is just optional, it is easy for passive Adopters and Detractors to:

  1. Make only minimal use of the technology.
  2. Stick to the old way of doing things.

In both cases, active Detractors actually gain credibility. The greatest tech on Earth won’t work if no one uses it. This predicament doesn’t just affect your current rollout, it hampers your future initiatives as well. The next time you try to reimagine a traditional way of doing things, Detractors already have plenty of ammunition: “Remember that last investment we made? It was a complete failure!” The “Push” method avoids this dilemma. Adapting to any new technology or process is difficult, at least initially. Most end users will find that once they get over the learning curve, the new way of doing things is significantly easier, more time efficient, and more effective. Sometimes a “tough love” approach is the best option. 

Combining “Push” and “Pull”

Depending on the size of your organization, the “Push” approach might be difficult to implement across all departments at once. Larger companies can benefit from combining the “Pull” and “Push” approaches if the ultimate goal is an organization-wide rollout. This is what it looks like:

  1. Push the technology into a single department. The selected department becomes case study that makes a business case to the rest of the organization.
  2. Other departments Pull the technology into their workflow. After seeing the success of the pilot department, other parts of your organization request access to the solution.

Choosing the right department to push the technology into is critical. While it might be tempting to pilot a new solution on a department that has its act together, opting for the easy route hurts your chances down the line. Skeptical parts of your organization gain a ready excuse to block adoption: “We’re nothing like X department. That will never work for us.” Show that the technology works by pushing it into a department with known issues. Once it solves problems previously deemed “unsolvable”, other departments will be eager to try the technology out themselves. Both Paychex and CenterPoint Energy have used this combination approach to great effect. 

3) The “Beta Test” Approach

The “Beta Test” approach involves piloting the technology on end users before rolling it out. To clarify, this means end users will be experiencing the technology from the perspective of the customer, candidate, or employee, not the user’s.  For example, when Ernst & Young began implementing HireVue, they did not start by giving recruiters a standard tutorial overview. Instead, they invited recruiters and hiring managers to a HireVue OnDemand interview so they could experience the technology from the candidate’s perspective. They used this opportunity to: 

  • Show off the range of question types available within HireVue.
  • Present the business case for the solution in a question format.
  • Collect initial feedback on the technology. Based on the feedback, EY readily identified its Promoters, Adopters, and Detractors. When the technology went live, they knew exactly who to give it to first.

This sort of approach works best when the technology is candidate or employee-facing, so end users can experience it from the opposite perspective. 

4) The “Dream Team” Approach

The “Dream Team” approach takes the “Pull” method a step further. Rather than just piloting a new software with enthusiastic Promoters, create an internal “think tank” dedicated to identifying new ways to use it.  A good “Dream Team” takes on multiple roles:

  1. It creates strategy around new use cases for the technology.
  2. It troubleshoots issues new users have with the solution.
  3. It actively advises less enthusiastic adopters on ways to incorporate the tech into their workflow.

Creating a “Dream Team” does more than build a compelling case study. It shows less enthusiastic users (or potential users) that there is continual innovation going into the technology, and an engaged support network for new users. 

The Case for a Combination of Approaches

It should be clear that no single approach is exclusive. Even two opposite approaches ("Push" & "Pull") can have great synergy when used properly in tandem. Theoretically every approach in this article could be leveraged at different points in a rollout (using the "Beta Test" approach to identify your "Dream Team", for example). The key to any successful implementation is data-driven creativity. If a single approach worked before, chances are high it will work again. Likewise, if you see an approach isn't driving the sort of adoption you expect, it might be time to pivot to a different method (or creatively incorporate a second approach into what you're already doing). Ultimately, you need to give the technology a chance before you make a final decision about the effectiveness of the investment - and you can only do that if your end users are on board.