“We’ve always done it this way.”

“We don’t need new software.”

There’s a reason change management exists. Companies and their leadership have to manage people and processes whenever new changes get implemented.

Often, employees push back on change because, well, change can be uncomfortable. It happens in every business unit, including HR.

So, when your company is marketing a work tech product and trying to build rapport with prospects, it’s important to always keep this resistance in mind. Someone in that office will not want to use your software.

How do you nurture prospects, generate leads and close deals in spite of this HR tech adoption resistance? By understanding the bigger picture.

Why Do HR Professionals Resist Tech Changes?

For the same reasons anyone else does. They’re comfortable using the systems and workflows they spent all that time learning.

Further, some people just don’t want new software really ever. They aren’t curious about new tech and don’t see the point.

HR tech adoption resistance can be a major hurdle for companies that are looking to update an HR process, system or workflow. Phil Albinus at Human Resource Executive, cites research from industry analyst Josh Bersin, noting that more than 4 in 10 HR tech projects fail after two years of implementation.

“Groundbreaking and even modest HR technology projects can face tough odds after they are rolled out, and success is far from guaranteed,” Albinus writes. “In short, if these new tools and solutions cannot get employee buy in, they could be destined to fail.”

There are some predictable reasons why a new solution fails to get employee buy-in. Grace Lau, director of content marketing at Dialpad, has a nice roundup of the primary reasons:

  • The person feels excluded from decision-making.
  • The person hasn’t had clear communication from management regarding the change and fails to see the benefits of it.
  • The person feels threatened, unappreciated or unconfident about their tech skills.
  • The person feels intruded upon by management.

There is interesting data to support that last point. Research from Prosci finds that, among all people in an organization, the ones who resist change the most are mid-level managers, followed by frontline staff. Executives and senior managers, by contrast, are the least resistant.

Professional woman sitting at desk in office; HR tech adoption concept

4 Tips for Building Trust With Wary Prospects

When marketing an HR tech solution, then, you must account for this kind of resistance.

We know who the most likely holdouts are, and we know why they’re hesitant to buy in. Now, it’s all about delivering messages that assuage those people’s fears and concerns.

Below are four ways to overcome HR tech adoption resistance.

Remind Prospects That the Tech Is Not the Change, Just a Tool to Support It

Imagine your company is marketing an AI-based tool that helps companies screen candidates during the early steps of the hiring process.

A company that adopts this tool has certain pain points. Maybe hiring managers are overwhelmed by applications during hiring rounds. Maybe the team has recognized systemic biases that influence candidate screening.

Whatever the case, the change that’s taking place is procedural, not technical. The AI screening software merely supports the new process — and that’s a key message for hesitant end users.

“Digital transformation is not about the technology,” Kim Ngan Tran at Be Informed writes. “Moving away from the technology focused mindset is necessary because any organizational transformation can only work alongside the human workforce. … Technology is there to make our lives easier in the end.”

Help Employees Understand the Bigger Picture

Lau at Dialpad says people resist new tech often because they feel excluded from decision-making or because management never gave them a firm reason why the new tech is necessary.

You can address both of those objections by giving prospects the tools and the language they need to communicate to their employees why the change is necessary. “Communicating with employees and getting them involved in the whole transition process will help them see the benefits,” Tran writes. “Everyone should know where the business is moving toward, and his or her place is in that bigger picture.”

Take the example from above. If a company’s screening processes continue to exclude certain types of candidates, or if candidate screening has become too large a task, then help people down the organizational chart understand this. That’s how you secure buy-in for a new candidate screening tool.

Frame Everything in the Context of Employee Experiences

In a 2021 industry guide, Bersin says that process harmonization should follow employee experience, not the other way around.

“You should define employee personas, understand your service delivery model (who will do what once the system goes live), and make sure your HR business partners are intimately involved in the technology strategy,” he writes.

People want to know how a new piece of software will impact their day-to-day work. Make that as clear as possible with videos, tutorials and walkthroughs.

Identify Your Champions and Work With Them

Just as every company will have holdouts during a tech transformation, every company will have advocates and champions. These are the people who are excited to roll out your software. They will be crucial partners in winning over their colleagues.

These don’t have to be HR people or their bosses. Simply look for the people who are pro-data and pro-analytics, Amy Furr at Visier says, whether that’s a frontline IT staffer or the CFO.

These are the people who will help win over others in the organization. Give them all of the tools and resources — e.g. tutorials and product walkthroughs mentioned above — they need to be your evangelist.

Action Items for Work Tech CMOs

  • Audit your mid-funnel content to see whether you’re speaking to reluctant adopters.
  • If not, remember who those reluctant adopters are (likely middle managers or frontline workers) and why they’re reluctant (they feel out of the loop, they don’t see the big picture, they lack confidence in their tech skills). Then, book a meeting with your marketing team to brainstorm ways you can speak to those objections.
  • Your organization’s sales teams are probably identifying the champions in prospects’ organizations already. Give those salespeople content that speaks to the issues above and can help champions win over reluctant colleagues .

Images by: Jonathan Borba, Mina Rad