- 90% of C-suite executives said their company pays attention to employee needs when introducing new technology, but only 53% of staff agreed.
- Use a variety of tactics to collect employee feedback. It can improve the chances that new technology will be well received.
- Make the process of soliciting employee feedback on technology a two-way conversation.
Yet new tech isn’t always well received. Team members on the warehouse floor might view new workflow routines or safety programs as unnecessary inconveniences – or even an intrusion. Even if these changes work, leadership misses a chance to bring employees on board by failing to gather feedback from front-line workers ahead of deployment and justify the technology.
In a PwC survey of 12,000 workers across multiple countries, roles and generations, 90% of C-suite executives said their company pays attention to employee needs when introducing new technology, but only 53% of staff agreed. Those figures amount to a wide communication gap that suggests that employees not only aren’t being heard, but they may not be getting the chance to speak up in the first place.
Because introducing new technology to employees typically requires a significant financial investment and the disruption of existing systems, most organizations can’t afford a clunky rollout or failed adoption. Getting employee feedback early in the process, then, is a critical step. Here’s how to get it right:
An Employee Survey
A tried-and-true tactic, employee surveys typically consist of a list of multiple-choice questions that allow leadership to objectively assess workers’ opinions on a handful of issues. Surveys offer a simple way to get quick answers and large scale constructive feedback on key topics.
Their limitations lie in a lack of nuance and one significant drawback: To get the answers you seek, you have to know the right questions to ask. Surveys make for an easily implemented piece of a larger employee feedback campaign. Consider adding several open-ended questions or including a comments section, giving workers a chance to sound off on what matters to them most.
Committees, Working Groups and Think Tanks
Gathering combinations of key influencers and experts to ideate and explore can be an excellent way to think through how to introduce new technology to an organization. The downside: team meetings and brainstorming sessions are time-consuming and pull workers away from their usual tasks. To make this option worthwhile, involve front-line workers from each department that the new technology touches.
Remember good old face-to-face dialogue? It still exists. Interviews have value in this context because they occur in real time, allowing for an exchange of ideas and richer insights. They also help build a rapport between management and employees. Just the act of reaching out to workers signals an honest interest from leadership.
However, one-on-ones limit feedback to a narrow scope of opinion, and their results hinge on leadership knowing who to interview and which questions to ask. Consider this tactic when you’re confident in your knowledge of your personnel and the technology itself.
This old classic may come off as quaint, but the advantages of a suggestion box are hard to deny: open-ended, anonymous feedback that can be delivered on an employee’s own time. But if an employee doesn’t believe they’ll be heard or taken seriously, they’ll walk by it without a second thought. A company should be transparent in handling suggestions and vocal about which ones it adopts.
There are some noteworthy advantages to soliciting employee feedback in exit interviews. First, questions can be folded into an existing process. Even better: you’ll get honest employee feedback. The answers of an employee with one foot out the door are likely to be truthful and unvarnished.
But like structured interviews, exit interviews have their limitations. For instance, most companies won’t have enough employees depart during a feedback period to build much of a consensus. Some workers who are moving on will also be too focused on the next thing to give much critical thought to a situation they’re leaving behind.
Layered Employee Engagement
Your best bet? As you might have already guessed, it will be some combination of the employee engagement strategies above. What that blend looks like will depend on your resources, the size of your workforce, your understanding of the technology and more.
Just remember that the path should be a two-way street. A study by MIT Sloan Management Review and Capgemini Consulting found that when a CEO shared their vision for a digital transformation, 93% of employees felt it was the right move for the organization. Yet only 36% of CEOs actually shared that vision with employees.
Whatever tactics you choose to solicit employee feedback on technology, make the process a conversation rather than a one-way dialogue. Your employees are one of your most valuable resources.