I took the picture to the left in a bathroom in Amsterdam. (Mark Twain, eat your heart out at my ability to grab an audience’s attention.)
I’m noticing more of these feedback machines everywhere I go--most recently after passing through security at a basketball game. They’re not new, but they’re definitely expanding in popularity.
If you’ve called your bank, favorite retailer, or trash company recently, you have probably been asked to complete a survey at the end of the call. At least one of the apps on your phone this week has asked you for a rating in the Apple or Google Play stores. Your Uber driver from last week is still waiting for you to acknowledge how great your ride was with a 5-star rating.
All of these companies and products are constantly looking for feedback so they can change and improve what they’re delivering to their customers and users.
The big question is: Why aren’t we going through the same trouble to ask employees what they think of our HR technology?
Do you know how your recruiters, managers, leaders, front-line employees, or even candidates feel about Workday, Taleo, SuccessFactors SAP, etc.? Where, when, and how do we get feedback on the tool?
I’ve worked with plenty of clients doing optimization work who, at project kick-off, give us a line that sounds something like, “we’re not sure why or how, but we know it doesn’t work.” Sometimes the companies come with some additional anecdotal evidence, “our leaders still wait for us to send them reports” or “our business units still make their own org charts.”
If you’re already in a situation that sounds like one of those, I still think we should talk. It’s never too late.
But for a minute, let me give everyone a crazy idea: put a status checker for your HR technology in the bathroom.
Not going to work? Then here are three alternatives for getting a true pulse check of your HR technology from the people who are actually using it.
Note: At this point I’m assuming you might not have the budget or backing to use an advanced tool like Happy or Not, but they are out there if you do. 2nd note: We’d love to hear from someone who has used them for this purpose, please email us if you have.
Back to some ideas you can do today…
1. Google Forms
The most economical approach is to pull together a brief survey to ask users about their HR technology experience. We’re not trying to find specifics yet, we’re trying to get a sense of perception. Include an open ended question or two in order to get some details and points you can potentially address.
There are other vendors and tools besides Google obviously, whatever works for you and your organization is fine as long as you’re doing something. Just remember to keep it short and sweet, you’re asking employees for a favor so don’t make it hard for them.
Think about 1-3 questions that will help you determine if (and maybe what kind) of action is needed. Are you happy with…? Do you intuitively know how to…? Do you get everything you need from…?
2. Team Meetings
Dust off some old-school people skills and get ready to embrace lots of awkward moments. This is harder as you need resources to attend meetings and balance schedules, but get 5-10 minutes on the agendas of willing teams in your organization.
Take 60 seconds to acknowledge that, like the business as a whole, you’re always trying to improve experiences. Then shut up and start taking notes.
If no one talks, let the room sit in silence for a couple minutes, someone will always chime in with something. If the team has more to say than can fit into the few minutes you asked for, acknowledge that you need more time and then respect the agenda and cut off the conversation. At this point you’ve made friends because they know you’re listening, don’t get the meeting owner upset that you ate into his/her entire meeting.
3. Focus Groups
Also hard because of logistics, but if you can make it work these are a great way to dive deeper than you probably did during that staff meeting. The focus group can be scheduled for longer (30-60 minutes) so you have time to explore what people are thinking with respect to the technology.
If the conversation turns to issues with reporting, dig into if it’s because the reports don’t exist or you just haven’t educated people well enough how to find them. If tasks take too long to complete, peel back the layers to see if it’s because there are too many steps or the tasks actually are just too complicated.
Pro tip: Having a snack and/or drinks is always a nice gesture. But if logistics require it, this can 100% be done using a video-conference like Skype or Hangouts. But it has to be video, otherwise people will be multitasking.
Don’t take for granted that your HR technology has some data and functionality baked into it already. Most systems can give you basic login information, i.e. are users actually going into the tool at all? And many can give you additional metrics like how long it takes to complete certain processes. If you can see a new job requisition takes five days to get approved, it’s probably safe to guess there’s some opportunity to be better.
Some vendors, like Workday, have survey capabilities built right in as well. You could ask for feedback, analyze it, and implement changes all in one place.
Whatever mechanism(s) you want to try, the first step is acknowledging you need to get this feedback. You can absolutely make updates to your technology based solely on what the vendors have released, but you are likely missing your biggest opportunity.
Once you have all the feedback, then you can make the word clouds and charts, build a business case for change, create a roadmap for enhancements, and finally implement much needed improvements. But if you proceed with the last step before knowing what your users are thinking, you risk not giving them what they actually need.
(Once you begin making the updates, don't forget to do the change management around that comes with it, but that's a topic for another day.)
So don’t sit back any longer. Run right at the issues you know exist and commit to giving your employees a great HR experience. Show your employees that you care about the technology they use as much as airports care about their bathrooms.
You can't do it standing still. So take the first step towards meaningful improvements. Take the Prossimo step.