Workforce engagement is the key to HRMS implementation success

How do you define success when buying a new HRMS? Is it getting value for money, the most bang for your bucks? Or hitting your go-live date with a seamlessly functional system? Or moving forward with an HRMS implementation that is subsequently used by your employees and that therefore improves how your business works.

Well, the answer is probably, yes to all three but that last one is definitely of fundamental importance. However, let’s be honest, it’s not easy to engage your workforce with company-wide initiatives; HRMS adoption cannot be taken for granted. Most people are inherently conservative (though not necessarily in political sense) and don’t enjoy change. So, if you’re going to go the considerable trouble of encouraging user buy in and engagement, there should be a good reason for all that effort, right?

People find change difficult…

All change is loss, even when it’s the loss of something inefficient or frustrating in favour of a slicker, shinier replacement. And whatever the loss is, people generally respond by wishing they hadn’t lost it (whatever “it” is). What follows is a learning process, often illustrated by some form of Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s grief curve, whereby the usual experience begins with shock (what’s happening?!), followed by denial (I don’t believe this is happening!), frustration (this is wrong / I can’t do this!), then experimentation (how does this work?), and finally - integration (this is how we do things now).

The key to managing your workforce through any change is finding ways to support them through this process and reach the experimentation and integration phases quickly. Failing to do so risks leaving them behind and threatens your HRMS adoption rate.

Use this free HRMS implementation checklist to plan your project

…and need support

The ADKAR framework from Prosci offers a highly practical model for helping users move through these stages:

  1. Awareness – tell people what the change is and the reasons for it, moving them out of shock and denial.
  2. Desire – give people reasons to want the change (either because it is attractive or because the existing situation is unattractive), moving them out of frustration.
  3. Knowledge – give them the knowledge and skills they need to be able to use the new system, moving towards experimentation.
  4. Ability – give opportunities for practice to embed the necessary knowledge and skills and be able to use them, this is positive experimentation.
  5. Reinforcement – reward people for new behaviors (those that encourage HRMS use) to encourage daily use of the new system (integration).

Alongside the longer term practical benefits of HRMS adoption – better data management, more accurate recordkeeping and data collection, more efficient HR processes, and better access for all via self-service functionality – the first and foremost reason to treat employees as a key user/stakeholder group is that not doing so leaves employees at the mercy of the change rather than making them an important part of making that change a success. Quite simply, if they’re involved in the process, employees are more likely to commit to using the new system and that commitment is critical.

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Dave Foxall

About the author…

Dave has worked as HR Manager for the Ministry of Justice for a number of years, he now writes on a broad range of topics including jazz music, and, of course, the HRMS software market.

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Dave Foxall