You’ve decided to introduce a new technology at your jobsites to help trim costs and save time—but where do you start? New technology can be a real time- and money-saving boon to your business. How do you introduce it to your valued workforce without making them feel that you’re policing them due to a lack of trust, or requiring extra work?
Below are 4 tips on how to best on-board your field workforce and not lose anyone in the bargain.
- Lower their defenses by telling them what’s coming. Don’t just ambush them with it. Employees don’t like being surprised, unless it’s a $100 gift card or an unexpected day off. Like all adults, they want to be treated with respect, not like children who can only handle a highly censored version of what’s going on. Tell them when you’re going to start using a new technology. Give them fair warning—at least a week’s notice before you start rolling it out on a limited basis. Make your notice clear about who it will be affecting—who all will be using the new technology? Let them know that more detailed information and formal training is forthcoming, and note when that will take place (i.e. in the month of September, or even a specific date and time if you already have one set).
- Dismantle any conspiracy theories about why you’re doing it. Be sure and squelch any negative rumors that might be circulating about the new system. You don’t have to bring any of this up until the official first announcement, whether it’s in print or at a crew-wide or company-wide meeting. Don’t start off on the defensive—introduce the technology first and say why you are planning to adopt it. Of course, you don’t have to tell them everything, but you also don’t have to tell them lies, or almost nothing. You could say that the technology will mean less work for your office staff or field supervisors and a more efficient workday. But, then tell them why you’re not doing it. Here are some reasons you’re not switching to digital time tracking: to keep closer tabs on all employees before instituting a mass firing. To make everyone work harder because you think they’re lazy or unproductive. To pit employees against each other and to promote your favorites.
- Remind them of the benefits—and of the pain points they won’t miss. Don’t just tell them how it’s going to help you. Make sure you enumerate all the ways it’s going to help them, without seeming like you are trying too hard. Tell them how it’s going to make their jobs easier, the difficult things it is going to save them from. If it’s a digital time tracking system, ask them if they ever enjoyed getting nagged about filling out a paper time card, or questioned about whether that time card was correct. Ask if they ever felt reluctant to put down the full extent of their overtime because they feared it was too much, even if it was all hours they came by honestly. Remind them that now everyone will be paid accurately and on time at every payroll, with accurate cost-coding—that they never have to fear getting cheated out of the honest work that they did.
- Give them a clear timeline for rollout from the start, so they won’t have to wonder. In order to do this, it’s best to have everything completely clear in your own head—and with key management and office staff who will be using the new product—before you say a word to your employees. Is there a time of year or of the month when your business is a little slower than at other times? Be prepared to mention the product shortly before that in some kind of company-wide announcement and target that date as the beginning of the soft rollout. (Or if you have more time to play with, perhaps a two-month down season, then mention the product a week or so into the slow period.) If you want, you can break up the announcement into two parts: one basic announcement of the new product in a meeting or in print, then a longer follow-up with printed materials when you’ll be giving the product its formal due before training of groups or crews begins.
One thing’s for sure: a product that is simple to use and explain—with features that will pique the interest of employees in the field and make their lives easier—will certainly make on-boarding smoother from start to finish.