Many Employers Can’t Identify Why HR Tech Adoption Lags


HR technology managers and vendors have expressed increasing concern about user adoption recently, as they grapple with many employees’ visible reluctance adopt workforce solutions despite the investment required to implement them.

“Customers will only see ROI from those IT investments if there’s an adequate level of adoption on the user’s part,” observed Bogdan Nica, vice president of product and services for Knoa, a user experience management company that focuses on SAP implementations. “UI changes, and making sure that those changes are sticky with users is what essentially ensures their success.”

'UI changes, and making sure that those changes are sticky with users is what essentially ensures their success.' @knoasoftware #HR #HRTech #HRTribe Share on X

The people in charge of product design and implementation say they understand this. However, their efforts have earned limited returns, according to research from Gallup. The company says only 17 percent of U.S. employees agree with the idea that their company “readily implements new technologies that help us to be more productive.”  

Specifically examining business agility, Gallup found that a tech-friendly attitude is a key component in determining how efficiently organizations operate. While the company’s research addressed issues that involve organization-wide adoption, most of its points can be applied to HCM technology specifically.

For example, employees must understand the point of a solution if they’re going to embrace it. If they don’t, they’ll use their time to tackle other responsibilities and put off learning how to use newly implemented technology.

In addition, conversations with vendors lead us to believe many product designers overestimate the user’s interest in technology itself. Gallup’s numbers back up that notion: Just 19 percent of employees and managers strongly agreed with the suggestion that they often discussed “new technology, trends and ideas that can be relevant to our work.”

Less Adoption, Less Engagement

In the context of HR, that often signifies a lack of engagement. After all, when workers sit in front of their computes all day long, the technology becomes their office environment, says Knoa CEO Brian Berns.

To younger workers—members of Gen X, Gen Z and, of course, Gen Y—perks like free snacks and soft drinks only go so far. Younger workers grew up with consumer-like technology, Berns said, “and when you put them in front of clunky software, you’re going to have an issue.” That issue, he continued, “is going to affect morale, it’s going affect retention.”

Technology’s reception, then, should be considered a factor in developing culture and building morale. A survey that uncovers low morale, for example, may indicate the need for new technology. “Morale’s low because your employees keep getting error messages,” Berns said. “The processes aren’t intuitive. This fancy, colorful user interface you just created, it’s not intuitive.” That, adds Nica, is why user experience and employee experience are “one and the same.”

Knoa’s approach is to monitor the user’s experience as they work with each application. The company’s data is less concerned with technical performance than it is with how easy, efficient and—dare we say—pleasant software is to work with.

However, linking experience and technology is “a blind spot” for many organizations, Nica suggests. “They know their availability metrics and their performance KPIs, but they still have a disconnect between what the IT measures and what the user senses as quality of the experience,” he said. “So there’s a gap.”

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