The care industry is famously hard-working. The hours can be long, the demands numerous, and the work often both physically and mentally draining.
It's little wonder, then, that staff in the care sector often recoil at the very thought of new processes, software, and technologies being forced upon them by management. They've got enough on their plates without having to learn their way around some new app or device just because the boss thinks it'll be a good idea...
So how, exactly, do managers and business owners roll out something like a new system or application without having a mutiny on their hands? How can they introduce something that, while it will benefit staff in the long-run, could be seen by those same employees as an annoyance at best?
With that in mind, today on the RotaCloud blog, we'll be sharing our top tips for introducing new software to a user-base that might be reluctant to embrace change in the form of new software or technology.
Part 1: Pre-launch
Ironically, the most important part of introducing new software to your team comes long before they even lay eyes upon it.
Here's how to lay the groundwork for a successful software rollout.
Before settling upon any new system or application, it's vital that you look into what other options are available. Whether you're on the hunt for a care home management platform, a mobile to-do list app, or staff scheduling software, you need to be sure that you're choosing a solution that's right for your team, rather than the one that appeals to you most personally. Does it do everything they'd need it to? Is it user-friendly? Are your team tech-savvy enough to pick it up easily?
You should also use this time to read as many user reviews and case studies as possible. Any company with a decent track record will be proactive in sharing what genuine users think of its apps, and will openly share reviews and testimonials on their website and social media channels. Be sure to read up on these, and visit sites like Capterra, which, as well as comparing similar programs and applications, publish genuine user reviews.
Take it for a spin
Once you have a few candidates lined up, find out whether there's a way to test them out. Most paid and subscription-based applications today offer free trials to help users decide whether they're right for them, so take full advantage.
You can use this trial period to explore the intricacies of the software, spot any potential drawbacks, and consider how your staff would fare navigating it.
Don't be coy about asking for an extension to your trial if you're still not sure, either — it never hurts to ask if you need more time. Just beware any companies that ask for your payment information at the point of signing up for said trial — it's easy to forget to cancel and end up paying for an app that you don't want!
Have an exit strategy
Even if you're positive that the solution you've decided to go with will be a winner with your team, it never hurts to have an exit strategy planned out just in case.
What if there's something you missed during your testing process, and the app doesn't perform some action that your team need it to? What if there's a policy change from higher up the management chain and the software you've chosen is no longer compliant?
If there's even a chance that you'll one day have to revert to your old way of doing things, then it's important to plan for it. After all, is it really worth the stress and expense of rolling out a new system or piece of software if you end up abandoning it six months down the line?
Talk about it
The last thing you should ever do is attempt to keep your plans to implement a new system secret. The truth always comes out, and your staff will likely interpret your attempt at secrecy as cause for concern, meaning that the whole process starts off on a negative note.
It's better to communicate this news in person if possible, as emails announcing any sort of change can often feel more like a decree than communication. A face-to-face discussion will give your staff an opportunity to ask questions and air any concerns.
Explain how and when the system will be rolled out, and make a point of pair the benefits of your new system with common pain-points that staff have identified in the past. This not only shows that you've been listening to your team, but will encourage adoption by framing your new software as the very solution that they've been craving.
Part 2: Rolling it out
Next comes the part that everyone dreads: the roll-out.
The good news, however, is that — providing you've laid the groundwork and communicated to your team for what's about to happen — it's rarely as stressful as you might imagine.
Create — and stick to — your roll-out plan
We know this sounds obvious, but it's important to consider how best to onboard your team(s) before you flip the switch.
Will you get your entire team using the new system in one fell swoop? Would it make more sense to test the water with just one department, or would that only make things messy? By what date do you want your team using it?
It's a good idea to decide this all well in advance and share your plan with your entire workforce so that they know what to expect — and there's minimal disruption to your business.
Get your key people on-side
Easily one of the most influential aspects of any successful roll-out of a new system or application is whether those who your staff look up to are on-board with it.
Attitudes in the workplace can be infectious: if a handful of people on your team are negative about your new system, then others are likely to follow suit. If your top, most influential, people are on-board with the change, however, then that same positive vibe will spread just as easily.
Essentially, what you need to do is make your care managers and team leaders ambassadors for the platform that you're implementing.
Be sure to hammer home the benefits, and make sure they're familiar with the system — if they're able to see how how it will positively impact them, then they'll share that message with others and help them get set up.
It goes without saying that your team will require a proper introduction to your new system. The kind of intro they receive, however, will largely depend on the nature of the software you're switching to and the potential impact it will have on staff and service users alike.
Even if you've chosen a platform that's intuitive in its own right and requires very little explanation (which hopefully you have!), your staff will be far more likely to embrace it if they're given a little bit of training, support and advice.
Ideally, the software provider will have given you access to some kind of user manual — or, even better video tutorials — for staff to refer to in the early stages. If not, it's worth creating some kind of "cheat sheet" in Word or Google Docs, containing bullet points and annotated screenshots of the most common actions your staff will be required to perform using the system.
Part 3: Post-launch
You've successfully switched to your new system. Congrats! But don't put your feet up just yet — there's still a tiny bit more work to do.
Keep an eye on user adoption rates
Many of today's business software packages are only effective if all your staff are using them. For example, if your care home starts using a business messaging app like Slack, any employees who don't use it will miss out on key information. To avoid this, you'll be required to communicate the same message through other channels so that all employees are kept in the loop. Not exactly the efficiency gains you were looking for.
That's why it's important to check how many of your staff have adopted your new software. Talk to them about any problems they've been having with the system, and work to overcome these obstacles as soon as possible.
Be honest about it
We as humans are programmed to defend our purchasing decisions until the very last, ignoring any negative points in an attempt to justify our past decisions. (It's the same reason your BMW-owning coworker will never hear a bad word against the German car maker.)
But when the future success of your business, and the happiness of your employees, is affected by those same decisions, it's sometimes necessary to swallow our pride.
Going back on your decision might be embarrassing, and doing so could disrupt day-to-day operations in your business. But it's better to have a few days of friction than years of frustration, resent, and potential harm caused to your business.
If, on the other hand, things are going well...
Celebrate the successes
After it's been rolled out for a couple of weeks or months and you've started to see the benefits of your new platform, be sure to speak to your team and talk about how the software has helped them and/or the business.
This isn't about patting yourself on the back; it's about taking the time to show appreciation to your team for embracing this new technology, giving them further opportunities to discuss any issues they might still be having, and taking a moment to highlight how their adoption has benefitted the business.
Hopefully, even the most sceptical of users will have warmed to the system by now, so you won't have to sell the software to them, but celebrating your successes will make it easier for you to implement similar changes in the future and make your team more receptive to them.
Switching your staff over to a new system or making a new app a part of your business can be a daunting prospect for managers, but with a little preparation, it's quite possible for staff to make the transition without too much fuss.
Most software companies (this one included!) go to great pains these days to make their products as user-friendly as possible, and offer everything from free support for users via live chat to how-to videos that are accessible 24/7. Do your homework, make the most of any free trials that are available, and involve your staff in the decision-making process where possible — they'll appreciate having their voices heard, and will be much more likely to adopt the system than reject it.
Thinking of rolling out a new staff scheduling or attendance platform? We think you'll love us. Check out what RotaCloud can do for your care business!