How to Overcome Employee Resistance to New Technology

Overcoming employee resistance to new technology

Did you know roughly 41% of the public usually makes New Year’s resolutions — but less than 10% feel that they’re successful at meeting their goal?

If it’s that hard to make a change where we deeply understand why we’re trying to change, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that change in the workplace can be even more difficult.

The truth is, change is hard — and we’re all creatures of habit.

But change is also a regular part of business.

New technology can help a business get ahead of the competition, grow profits, become more efficient, and improve brand perception.

So, how can you help your team implement new technology with as little resistance to those changes as possible?

Understanding Resistance to New Technology

“The key to the problem is to understand the true nature of resistance,” wrote Paul R. Lawrence, in the Harvard Business Review back in 1969.

The truth is most people resist change because change creates uncertainty, and uncertainty breeds fear. People fear how changes will impact them — and the known is always less scary than the unknown.

So one of the common problems businesses run into when implementing new technology is resistance, a drop in productivity, and sometimes even a refusal to use the new technology at all.

Rather than working hard to learn a new system, employees seem to look for reasons for it to fail.

This lack of buy in from key members of the team is caused (often unconsciously) by fear about the impact the change will have on them and their job.

Rather than overcoming that fear, often the best solution is to avoid allowing it to occur in the first place — by involving all of those who will be affected in the decision making process before a change takes place.

Active participation is often the easiest way to increase adoption and decrease resistance to new technologies.

Of course, that’s not always completely possible. When it’s not possible to include team members in making the decision, it’s critical to ensure they understand what’s in it for them.

Take some time to think through how a change might positively impact them and help them do their job more efficiently or effectively.

Will it save them time? Relieve them of tedious tasks? Help prevent errors?

Communicate these positive consequences and and be sure to take time to address any concerns employees may have, to help relieve their fears.

Using a Pilot Program to Implement New Technology

Another option for helping smooth out a transition to a new technology is to create a pilot program.

A pilot program is a small-scale, short-term experiment that helps an organization learn how a large-scale project might work in practice; it can involve anywhere from just one person to a whole team.

By starting with a pilot program you can often create a champion, someone who has experience with the new system and can share its benefits with others. That person can also serve as a go-to source for questions and can help iron out any potential issues before the technology is completely implemented.

Having an end-user who is willing to champion new technology can be a powerful tool in aiding adoption.

Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail

Finally, regardless of which of these techniques you use, it’s important to recognize half the battle in overcoming resistance to a new technology is anticipating that it might exist and creating a plan for dealing with it.

All too often decisions for change are made and then handed down with little consideration for those most affected by those changes.

By anticipating potential problems and creating a strategy to help resolve them, you’re much more likely to successfully achieve your original aim.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not of The HR Gazette or its team members.
melissabreau@suretysystems.com'

Author: Melissa Breau

Melissa Breau has spent the last 5+ years at the intersection of business and technology. Today she is the Digital Marketing Specialist at Surety Systems, which provides Enterprise Resource Planning Consulting Services for companies using JD Edwards, Lawson, and Kronos.

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