Your HR data has been uploaded and checked, processes configured, reminders put in place and workflows all set to go. All that’s needed now is to send employees their self-service logins and your work is done. Wouldn’t it be great if it was this simple?

As an HR professional, you’ll know asking people to change how they do things is never straightforward. A big part of the problem is change aversion. Essentially, humans don’t like change. It can mean uncertainty and risk, so we’re genetically programmed to distrust it. This seems to be especially true with technology, where even enhancements to existing systems can generate resistance – at least at first. We have to re-learn things we were familiar with, which can make us feel stupid.

man rolling hr

Hopefully, many of your staff have a growth mindset and will take to your new HR system like ducks to water. They’ll be prepared to explore the software and embrace a new way of doing HR. Other employees however may need a little encouragement, and some may even dig their heels in and need more of your time to get them started.

While you can’t avoid some resistance to change, there are some important ways you can mitigate it. Here are six steps to take to make your self-service rollout out a success.

1. Communicate, communicate, communicate

Sudden unannounced changes create the most resistance. The more you can do to explain the benefits of your new HR system before you take it live, the less likely you are to have problems.

Taking the time to talk to line managers is really important, especially if you’re putting in an HR system for the first time. Once it goes live, they’ll get notifications and requests they need to act on. If they don’t understand the bigger picture, there’s a danger they’ll feel you’re offloading too much HR admin on to them.

Highlight the productivity savings and flexibility that a secure Cloud HR solution delivers. Show them how easy it is to configure their personal dashboards, customise their calendar view, or review information about the people in their team. Involve them in deciding when to roll out different aspects of the system. That way they’ll know what‘s coming and when.

2. Make it about them, not you

If your employees aren’t used to reporting absences, recording performance reviews or completing timesheets in a systematic way, there’s a danger they may feel you are spying on them or asking them to jump through unnecessary hoops. Put yourselves in their shoes and think about what they’ll find useful about the system.

You could start by reviewing the questions you get asked by employees on a regular basis, and match those to the features in your HR system. For example, would employees value being able to check their holiday balances in real time, access their payslips online, look back at historic performance reviews or simply know where to go to find the latest policy document?

If you can start by explaining how your HR system solves some of their issues, you’ll find they’ll be much happier using it.

3. Have a program of ‘familiarisation activities’

With anything new, not trying to achieve too much at once can be the best approach.  When planning your self-service rollout, try asking employees to complete one simple task at a time, such as updating their own contact information or uploading a photo of themselves. Employees will find it much easier to familiarise themselves with the system if they have specific goals – and perhaps a few simple instructions to get them started.

For example:

* Day 1 – Send an email to welcome employees to their new HR system and suggest they check (and update) their contact information. It’s also helpful to remind them of your company’s password policy, and what they need to do if they forget their login information.

* Day 2 – Ask them to upload a new profile photo and remind them to bookmark the login page, so they can get to the system faster.

* Day 4 – Let them know that the HR portal is up and running and what they can find there. If you can, set up a ‘hints and tips’ area where employees can ask questions about the system.

* Day 8 – Recommend employees to add, check and update, information about their next of kin.

* Day 10 – Send out links to your HR software’s mobile apps and let employees know that they may find these really useful if, for example, they want to request time off or fill in their timesheets on the go.

4. Run masterclasses

HR systems usually come with a lot of great tools – like configurable reports, HR analytics and team calendars – that line managers will really appreciate.

Let them know that, once your system has been up and running for a week or two, you’ll be running a series of short online session to step them through the options available to them. It’s the perfect opportunity to make sure they understand the capabilities of your new HR software and gives them the opportunity to ask questions.

5. Ask for feedback

It makes sense to invite feedback about your new system from the first day you go live: it’s a good way for employees to flag up problems or just let off steam if they are finding it difficult to adjust to a new way of doing things.

However, to really assess how well your system is working, it’s best to wait until everyone has been using it for a couple of months. That way, they’ll be over the resistance stage and more open to providing positive feedback.

If you can, include questions that reflect the pain points you identified when you started looking for a new HR system. Can employees find the information they want faster than before? Is it easier to check holiday balances and fill in timesheets? Do performance reviews feel more transparent and collaborative? Are holiday requests being dealt with faster? Are they happy with the accuracy of their data? Do line managers have better information about their teams?

Hopefully, you’ll get positive answers to your questions, so you can evidence success to your team and to senior management, if needed. If not, take the time to dig into the details, so you can understand and fix any problems.

6. Have a plan for new joiners

It’s also good to think about how to get new employees up to speed with the most important features in your HR system quickly. Perhaps you could include a quick overview as part of your induction program or put together a hints and tips guide.

For new managers, consider buddying them up with one of their peers who can take them through how they use the system day to day and what reports are available. And, if your new joiner is in HR, make sure they get proper training – either from someone in your team or your supplier. That way, you can be sure your colleagues will be able to help you build on the success of your initial implementation.

Sue Lingard author image

Sue Lingard

Sue studied Personnel Management at the London School of Economics before taking on management roles in the travel, recruitment and finally HR software industry. She's particularly interested in how technologies enable HR teams - and the people they support - to work better together.

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