What to do when your staff resist technological change

Posted on 20th April 2016

Technology is moving at the speed of the light, and this is undoubtedly presenting a huge and unmissable opportunity for employers. Want to make your processes more effective? Need to ramp up productivity and improve output? With the right technological solution, just about anything is possible. The big question here though, is just how well received the changes will be when you introduce them to your staff.

Through the years, change, in its many forms, has been the cause of many headaches for business owners and HR professionals alike. Even when it marks the opportunity for slicker working practices and an improvement in efficiency, it’s human nature that some members of staff will feel dubious about the process, and big organisational changes need to be managed with care and attention.

A recent study by Oxford University found that a third of UK jobs would be lost to technology by 2030. Big changes are afoot, and in China, they haven’t been well received. In fact, there have been many media reports of staff members revolting by destroying high-tech (and high-cost) equipment through sheer frustration and fear about the future.  This is nothing new, on a recent visit to our local museum I read a newspaper article from the 1930s of a factory owner having to sleep with his machines to stop worried employees destroying them!

So all of this puts business owners in a bit of a tricky situation. If you’re keen to move with the times and reap the benefits that can come with embracing technology, you could face the difficult task of convincing your staff that this change is in fact for the best. It might be unlikely that they’ll start smashing up machinery in protest, but if you don’t have your people onboard, you’re never going to achieve your objectives.

What can I do about it?

Whilst it’s unlikely that your staff will start smashing up their machinery, there’s no denying that resistance against technology is something that needs to be closely monitored and addressed in your workforce.

Here’s how to manage technological changes.

Communication, communication, communication

Simply put, your staff can’t be onboard with changes that they don’t fully understand. If you’re introducing new systems, be open and honest wherever possible, and run briefings that share and explain your overall goals and objectives, as well as answering questions that your workers might have.

Of course, this shouldn’t be something that you start to address once all the decisions have been made. When you’re merely going through the motions, it will feel false and your staff will see right through it. Invite feedback and contributions from the very beginning, and recognise that when you keep your employees in the dark, they’re likely to make their own assumptions about what’s happening.

Effective communication is an ongoing process, and you need to treat it as such. Research from CIPD found that employees’ concerns about job losses are amplified by a failure to communicate properly with staff. Put this at the top of your agenda, or you’ll run into big problems.

Focus on long term goals

New technological solutions shouldn’t be seen as quick fixes. If you really want to reap the benefits, you need to be concerned with making processes slicker and more efficient, rather than just seeking to cut corners and make short-term savings.

The truth is that the future of work is going to be different. Jobs will be lost, roles will change significantly, and when we’re dealing with people, it’s always going to be a somewhat messy and emotional business.

The real winners here though will be the companies that can guide staff through the changes with sensitivity, and match their actions with their strategic goals. You’re still going to need the very best people to help drive your business forward, so you need to make sure that you’re demonstrating the highest standard of leadership, and really paving the way for your organisation.

If you want to grow your business, you need to embrace change, and you need to have the full buy-in of your staff. Planning to introduce new technology into your working practices, and concerned about the impact that it could have? I have been delivering change management training, often ILM accredited, for years to businesses so if you want some advice or indeed training then give us a call on 01536 215240 or email emma@gatewayhr.com

 

 

 

Emma Wynne Character
Written by:
Emma Wynne
Managing Director