August 12, 2020 Coronavirus

The Role of Change Management in HCM Implementation

As with any complex project, managing expectations and communicating early and often are key. Change that feels sudden or forced can confuse workers and make them resistant or even suspicious of the new system, even when it offers features that can make their jobs easier. Step one in change management is putting together a strong implementation team with specific people tasked with managing employee experience, education and adoption of the new technology. “You need people who embrace change and can sell change to the organization. They need to be the biggest cheerleaders of the solution that is coming for the company and they need to be able to inspire enthusiasm so adoption is easier,” says Wise consultant Karen Shropshire.

Change Management in the Workplace Starts Early

Keith Lee, a consulting manager with Wise, agrees. “Change management is often something that is left behind and not thought of until the last minute. It is very important to really start that before the implementation begins. Plan to roll out communications to your employees that this transition is coming and there are changes happening. When left until the last minute, there is scrambling to come up with the right communication, resources, guides and reference notes.”

When it’s an afterthought, employees feel out of the loop and less inclined to get on board. Experienced implementation professionals understand that an organization can buy the best HCM system for their perceived business needs possible and still wind up dissatisfied with it. This may be because workers resist instructions to engage with it because the upcoming change was not communicated early on and throughout the implementation process. Employees need to understand what’s in it for them and they need training as well as consistent support for the project from every level of the organization. If executives are enthusiastic and team leaders are not, those mixed signals will sow mistrust.  

What Do Employees Need to Know About HCM System Implementation?

Employees need to know why the company has decided to make this change, how long it is expected to take and what’s in it for them. Communicate how the new system will give self-service access to workers and how that will be empowering, from allowing them access to their data and making changes when it’s convenient for them, to wellness connectivity and career development opportunities. Better reports and analytics to enhance goal-setting and communication as well as process transparency can also be exciting to employees. For those who have concerns, there should be a clear procedure for contacting someone who can address their fears in a meaningful way.

Address Negativity in the Workplace as it Arises

Allowing negative gossip to spread and taint the outcome before Go-Live even happens is not conducive to success. Workers who have concerns might fear moving from processes that, for them, were working well enough. They understood how things worked and don’t like change. For this group, communication and sharing of key information about how new processes will work and why it will be worth the transition is important. Counter fear of change with transparency, education and assurance that someone is accessible with answers as they are needed.

Change Management can be an Excuse to Have Fun

Everyone loves a reason to celebrate, so set up fun moments (food, Zoom parties, themed dress-up days) to mark the small successes that happen along the process of implementation. If employees can share in understanding the progress and celebrate important deadlines and accomplishments, they feel like part of the process and are more likely to be interested in using the new options available to them once the system is live.

Count Down to Go-Live of Your HCM System

Celebrate completion. If workers have been following the process, they will be happy to share in the culminating moment of Go-Live. Follow-up is important also. Assuming that just because the project was a success from the implementation point of view means it is over is a mistake. For employees, the experience just began. User training and resources, leadership role modeling, having a clear procedure for fielding initial contact from confused or frustrated workers who are trying to learn the new system; these are all important in realizing your goal of user adoption and optimization of how this new system will benefit your organization.

Implementation Success is More than Meeting Budget and Deadlines

Success with your new HCM system is not only measured in ideal configuration, robust testing, meeting deadlines and clean data. Your people need to understand what is happening and feel empowered as system users. If you have questions about change management, or any other component of implementation, reach out to our Wise experts at or 800-654-4550. You can also contact us here.

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