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Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are crucial for HR departments. Online job boards have made it easier than ever to apply, but that can mean very high volumes of resumes and candidates to weed through.

An ATS can help save time, reduce costs, and maximize the quality, diversity, and tenure of your future employees—but only if your team uses it.

Effective change management is essential to drive adoption of your ATS. Resistance to change is normal. The secret to successful adoption is learning how to effectively generate enthusiasm, stay motivated, and work through challenges as a team.

Whether you’re just beginning your ATS journey or have already implemented one, here are our top ways for driving adoption so you can leverage your ATS’s full power and potential.

Increase Buy-In

User adoption problems are complex, but one of the most common issues is not having enough buy-in from your team.

If they’re not using your ATS now, they either:

  1. Don’t understand how to use it, or
  2. Don’t see why they should.

Make the benefits very clear to them. Find existing pain points in your current hiring workflow and demonstrate how the ATS helps alleviate these problems.

Let your staff envision how the ATS can make their jobs easier. Better yet, show them.

Incorporate demos, tip sheets, and how-tos into staff meetings that demonstrate the benefits in a real and understandable way.

Don’t emphasize the required (and dull) regulatory reasons behind the change, even if they’re true. Show your staff why they should use the system, instead of simply telling them they must.

Manage Expectations

Be realistic and honest. Overpromising features just to generate excitement in the short term is a bad move. The ATS will ultimately fail to live up to your staff’s expectations, and this will be a major source of dissatisfaction.

Get staff excited about the product, but don’t sell them the moon. Once the system is live, dashed hopes and resentment can quickly sink your adoption rates.

If you’ve already set unrealistic expectations, shift and be upfront about what the system can and cannot do. Focus conversations and communication on issues the system does solve not what it should be able to do.

Create a Consistent Message

Ongoing communication is crucial for motivating your staff to embrace your ATS.

According to a Robert Half study, 65% of managers say the most important part of managing change is to communicate often and clearly.

Whatever you do, don’t stop communicating after your ATS has been implemented.

Communication to staff should occur regularly and include only essential information. Don’t bombard staff with emails they’ll start to ignore either. Make sure your communication is engaging and genuinely informative.

At all levels of management, there should be consistent support and enthusiasm even in the face of setbacks. Achieving cohesive belief in the ATS among your staff starts with consistent messages from the top.

Give Your Staff a Voice

Create an easy way for your staff to voice concerns and provide feedback.

Remaining open to feedback will limit skepticism and negativity. Providing an open forum will help maintain an attitude of motivation, resolution, and support within your team.

Changes often fail because challenges are kept secret rather than discussed openly. Be transparent when goals are not reached and be willing to hear and incorporate your team’s feedback.

Don’t keep valued recruiters out of the loop. After all, they are your key to meeting all of your ATS goals. And they’re your greatest source of information about how to make adoption better.

Utilize Super Users

An easy way to generate support and buy-in from your staff is to create super users. These are usually tech-savvy staff (well-liked or supported by their teammates) who receive additional training.

They are your day-to-day champions. Your front line.

Choose staff capable of inspiring others around them to use the system. If you’re not utilizing them already, they’re a fantastic way to increase staff involvement and support.

Try to involve your most skeptical or vocal users right from the beginning. Identify and resolve their doubts and include them in the build process. These folks can actually become some of your best advocates once the system is live.

Fix Broken Workflows

Poor ATS adoption sometimes has nothing to do with enthusiasm or motivation, but with workflows that are simply broken.

When the dust from your Go-Live has safely settled, return to the drawing board to redesign or fine-tune ineffective workflows. Make sure you involve your staff and super users in the redesign process from the very beginning.

Leadership can be there to help ensure the redesign still fits regulatory and compliance needs and does not require too much money or training. But task teams should strive to improve the efficiency of the ATS and make it easier for staff to do their jobs.

Focus on Usability

It’s easy to expect your ATS to whistle and make coffee as it cuts your costs and times to hire in half.

But don’t over-configure. Features can often get in the way of functionality. In the beginning, cut those nice-to-have features and focus on essential ones.

Use the 80/20 rule. Ask yourself: “Does this feature solve a problem we encounter 80% of the time or just 20%?” If you’re struggling with poor adoption now, make sure you’ve focused your design, training, and communication efforts on the most essential features of your ATS.

Your staff will be hesitant to adopt any system that makes their day-to-day work more confusing or difficult. Make workflows as simple as possible. Focus on doing big workflows really well.

Steer clear of clunky, confusing, multi-click workflows for heavy-hitting tasks. This alone can drive adoption because your team will be able to learn the system more quickly and effectively.

Training, Training…TRAINING

Everyone learns at a different pace and in a different way. Create an environment that encourages refresher training and doesn’t punish those who need extra help.

Use a variety of training methods too.

Send out tip-sheets and how-to videos to your staff. Offer mini huddle groups or in-person sessions if possible. Make these resources easy to find and access so staff can review them whenever they need.

In addition to the new software, you’ve probably changed your hiring process too. Be patient, but resolute with your training. Keep your staff focused on using the new system and don’t let lack of training be the reason they give up on the technology.

Your super-users can be your eyes and ears to reach team members who are struggling. Use them to champion any new, updated workflows and make sure their peers are onboard.

Celebrate Successes

Keep your team motivated by regularly sharing updates and progress towards your goals.

Make these goals transparent and visible for your staff to see. You might even offer incentives for reaching them.

If your budget allows, small incentives or gift certificates can be effective ways of pushing hesitant users over the edge into learning, using, and coming to appreciate the new system.

ATS Adoption is a Marathon – Worth the Effort

Despite all your best efforts, there may be a few people who still don’t want to use your beautiful and well-designed ATS.

Try to get to the bottom of what prevents them from using the system. Maybe they need more training or fear they won’t understand the new workflows. Pairing them with a super user for a day or two may really help.

If you’re struggling with more widespread adoption of your ATS, make sure you’ve generated enough buy-in, have properly managed expectations and built the system in a way that actually benefits staff, not just your bottom line.

Refocus training efforts and improve your communication strategy. Slowly but surely, you’ll see improved enthusiasm, support, and adoption of your new ATS.

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