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Organisations globally are exploring how to use emerging technologies to simplify processes, enhance experiences and boost predictive capabilities. The adoption of AI technology is happening gradually across businesses, increased by strategies developed to operationalise and apply AI successfully. Reports show that 60% of larger companies are likely to have a holistic AI approach in place already.
These advancements can bring about transformative changes in how businesses operate and deliver value to their customers. However, it is crucial to remember that such changes are often met with opposition from the workforce, which is a natural response rooted in human nature. Organisations can minimise resistance among impacted workers by planning effectively for introducing new tech and proactively addressing opposition before it becomes a concern.
The first step is for organisations to understand what type of resistance they are dealing with. Then, they can engage in effective and deliberate planning to promote new technologies and harness their benefits.
Opposition to change often stems from fear of the unknown, negative past experiences, disruption of established routines, or a perceived loss of control. It can be categorised into four buckets:
Decoding the type of resistance you are dealing with is crucial to figure out how to minimise repercussions. While it’s essential when introducing any new technology or process, it’s probably even more imperative now when artificial intelligence is becoming our everyday reality. This tech brings additional concerns stemming from an insufficient understanding of what it can do, and how firms plan to adopt. For many, it’s still a bit of a futuristic concept, and – as with any other tool that automates and speeds up processes – people fear losing their jobs.
Research reveals that 23% of talent acquisition professionals fear being replaced by AI, and only 15% believe humans are essential to recruitment. Such sentiments can easily translate to change resistance if not adequately investigated and addressed. For example, Pontoon’s experience with AI-powered bots shows that launching a sourcing bot did not reduce the headcount. Quite the contrary, it increased the number of sourcing experts almost ten times. Organisations need to debunk misconceptions ahead of time and cooperate with their workforce to find areas where tech can ease everyday workloads. The increased focus on connecting tools to strategic business goals makes technology engrained in the companies’ culture. This is why ensuring painless adoption is crucial.
Planning for resistance – whether digital, process-oriented or other – saves valuable time in the change journey. Rather than reacting to the opposition, employers can proactively anticipate where workers may struggle and iron out issues before the change goes into effect. Resistance planning can help jump-start the process with key stakeholders. First, it allows for identifying potential pockets of resistance and then designing a plan to prevent it. Important strategies to keep in mind when drafting a change plan to reduce potential opposition include:
Studies indicate that individuals genuinely committed to change are statistically 30% more inclined to adhere to it. Hence, prioritising resistance planning as part of the change management journey becomes indispensable to ensure a seamless transition.
It’s fundamental to remember that while everyone’s eyes turn to AI, other – more traditional tech – can also be a source of resistance. It’s also new, going against how things were done so far, disturbing the everyday status quo, and more. All change requires an adjustment and a shift outside of a comfort zone. The impacted individuals must know what will change and the future-state benefits for themselves and the business.
For one of Pontoon’s clients in North America, we successfully implemented an MSP solution that included the adoption of a brand-new VMS. Instead of waiting for the anticipated resistance, our team took a proactive approach. They conducted an intro session, followed by an extensive informational campaign focused on the impending change. This additional communication layer allowed us to show extra care and consideration throughout the process. Further, we identified client representatives who would be directly affected by the change and engaged them as subject matter experts early on.
The client’s subject matter experts (SME) gathered valuable feedback during various change activities throughout the technology implementation phase. They actively participated in activities such as reviewing a demo of the VMS, attending the live design sign-off session, and taking part in solution validation. To further enhance buy-in from hiring managers who were not directly involved in the process, the client’s SMEs created a personalised ‘What’s in it for Me’ content that was later added to the hiring manager training deck. Through this, we ensured that all stakeholders felt included and understood the benefits of the change. This comprehensive approach significantly reduced resistance and fostered a sense of collaboration throughout the entire change initiative.
The VMS platforms’ automation and AI enhancements can reduce work hours in the contingent labour management cycle by 10 – 35%. With other benefits, including shorter time-to-hire, improved efficiencies, and better supply chain management, it’s not surprising that adoption of VMS in mid-market firms grew by 20% globally between 2019 and 2021. Augmenting tech into everyday processes is going to be even more widespread, hence the importance of driving internal buy-in through digital resistance planning.
Resistance is a natural occurrence when introducing changes, including technology augmentation. However, employers can effectively address it by proactively investigating where and why it can occur. They must emphasise change benefits, catering to the audience’s learning styles and using their preferred communication methods. Creating a change journey that resonates with everyone and fosters a positive attitude towards digital transformation is essential. The success of technology adoption hinges on user acceptance. Without gaining internal buy-in, the potential benefits of any tech will remain unrealised.
Technology solutions have emerged as critical allies in a world of constant disruptions, allowing companies to stay agile and adapt to shifting workforce requirements. As part of our advisory function – Pontoon Instinct – and specifically within the Technology & Integration practice – we help customers scope, build and deploy technology solutions that best suit their business requirements. This includes supporting selection, implementation, and adoption. Contact us through the button below if you wish to find out more.