Changing the culture of any company is a long hard slog. 

Even a small SMB that has less than 50 members of staff can be very set on a specific culture, and huge public services, like the NHS, are extremely difficult to enact cultural change on. 

This is due to a number of factors, but the main ones include: the number of staff in the business, the length of time they’ve worked there and their general willingness to adopt new processes and technologies.   

When trying to create a cultural shift in a company, whether you’re a HR leader looking to onboard some new software or the head of a business hoping to foster greater productivity in your teams, the keys to success are persistence, communication and training.  

Nothing will kill your digital transformation project faster than dropping a new software tool on staff with no notice. People will push back if they think something new is being forced on them and they don’t know why.  

This can be really difficult for HR leaders to manage, especially if they’ve had buy-in from their leadership team. Questions will start being asked about why the new processes aren’t being adopted and this can lead to headaches for everyone involved.  

This is why the best way to onboard some new HR software (or any software for that matter) is to start by aligning the culture of your company and its general appetite for change with your digital transformation project. 

That way, when you do install a new platform, system or tool, your employees will know what it does, why it’s happening and their role within the transformation.

In this article, we’ll explore the difficulties HR leaders can face when trying to onboard some new HR software. We’ll look at how aligning your team culturally with your new tool is the best way to onboard it and we’ll touch on a few tactics you can use to begin creating cultural change in your business.

Why onboarding some new HR software can be difficult

If done incorrectly, implementing new HR software in your business can become a nightmare. People generally don’t like change and if faced with the option of learning a new process or sticking with something they’ve always done, they’ll pick the latter nine times out of ten.  

This means dropping a new tool into employees laps with no notice will likely be met with a frosty reception. 

Also, if staff can’t see how a new tool will improve their working day it won’t be adopted. We often see leaders of digital transformations send out new software with vague statements about how it’ll improve company productivity and ROI without addressing the real benefits it’ll have to each member of staff.

When you do this, the tool you’re trying to get everyone to use becomes an abstract object that gives no value to your employees. People aren’t going to use something that won’t help them directly. Communicating the value of a new tool in real terms is vital if you want staff to use it. 

Lastly, people aren’t going to use something that they don’t know how to use. Pretty obvious really. New tools, processes and HR software often require training to use effectively. Although it’s not common, we have seen companies drop new software on staff with no training or onboarding process at all. 

This leaves staff scratching their heads when they come into work one day, only to find a new dashboard on their computer full of unfamiliar buttons, features and dials. People can’t adopt something they can’t use, so making sure employees have all the training necessary to use a new piece of software is essential if you want it adopted successfully. 

We’ve just listed three big stumbling blocks many people encounter when trying to onboard some new HR software. There are many causes for these but the overarching issue is trying to impose a new HR software tool on a company that isn’t open to receiving it. 

The key way to overcome this blocker is by fostering a cultural change in your business that’ll make your staff receptive to change.     

We’ll find out how to do that, and the benefits it can give your business, in the next part of this article.

How can instigating a cultural shift in your company help your employees engage with some new HR software? 

As we mentioned in the introduction to this article, the three keys to success when instigating a cultural change to allow for the onboarding of some new HR software are: patience, communication and training. 

By spending your time communicating the goals of your new HR software to staff and listening to their feedback, you can begin to inform them on the benefits of your new tool prior to installing it. 

Also, by speaking to staff before you introduce the new HR software into your business, you can bring them into the onboarding process. By giving them ownership over the implementation of your new tool, you’re actively creating a culture of change in your organisation by letting your employees run the digital transformation project themselves.  

Below we’ve listed 3 reasons why it’s essential to lead your HR digital transformation with a culture change project if you want to guarantee your new software is adopted completely and quickly in your business. 

Reason 1 – Creating a culture of innovation in your company helps when onboarding new tools

If your staff get excited at the prospect of new technology and processes then onboarding new HR software becomes a lot easier. Creating a culture of innovation and improvement within your business, turns staff from people who are change averse to change positive. 

Once your employees are excited by the prospect of seeing new tech, or working to improve their own processes, then presenting new HR tools to them stops being an uphill struggle. 

Reason 2 – A company culture that is open to new tools will adopt your HR software faster and more efficiently

This reason follows on from the last point but once you have a business that gets excited by change, then every employee becomes a champion for your new HR tools, software and programs. 

Even if every staff member isn’t on board with a change mindset, once an overwhelming majority are then onboarding new tools becomes inevitable. The uptake of new tech by your staff will be so quick that doubters in your business will have to adopt the new software to be able to remain efficient. 

Reason 3 – A company culture that is aligned with your HR software will work with you to make your new platform a success

When everyone in your business is responsible in some way for onboarding your new HR software, making it a success is much easier. 

When everyone in the company champions a new HR tool, the pressure is removed from the digital transformation team as uptake of the new software will happen naturally throughout the business. 

How can you instigate a cultural shift in your company?  

This is a big question and one that could be an entire article in itself. 

Creating a cultural change in your company relies on doing many things over a long period of time to get everyone on board with your new way of thinking. We’ll list a few things you can do here to begin to understand what a culture transformation project would look like.

  1. Separate all employees in your company into two categories. The first are people who you think will be resistant to culture change and the second are people who you believe would be open and excited about culture change. You’ll need to take a different approach to each of these two camps if you’d like to successfully change your company’s culture.
  2. For those that are resistant to culture and technology change in your business, regular communication about the benefits of a new piece of software or process is essential. You need a sustained communication campaign that is consistently engaging sceptics with the benefits of your new tool.

    Also, group sessions and one-on-ones can help break down any barriers and objections this group has about a new HR software or process. It gives you an opportunity to address push backs directly and demonstrate how your new HR software can actually improve the day-to-day lives of your employees.

    Once they begin to understand the benefits a new tool provides them they’ll become much more open to adopting it when you finally roll it out.
  3. As for the group of people who are excited about technology change, these individuals should become evangelists and champions of the tool. Run extra workshops with them to make them “super users” of your new HR software.

    By having people like this scattered throughout your business, it helps reinforce the mission of your culture change / new HR tool and provides more support to those employees who are maybe less confident using the new software.

    Allowing these employees to act like a sort of unofficial support staff, means the employees within your company help upskill each other on how to use the tool. This not only takes the pressure away from you, but it means the tool will be integrated into your business more quickly. 

The three steps we’ve mentioned above are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to creating culture change within your business. There are lots of different tactics and approaches you can take and finding a strategy that works for you should be the first step in this process. 

There’s also plenty of literature online too you can use. Here’s one article we found that could help you begin your culture transformation project: 6 ways to change your work culture  

Do you need some help onboarding some new HR software?

If you’re currently going through a HR software onboarding process or you’re looking to purchase a new HR platform, Phase 3 can help. We’re an HR consultancy service that works with businesses to improve their HR processes, technology and payroll. If you’d like to find out how we can help you, contact us here.