Why Your Staff May Resist a Move to the Cloud

March 16, 2018 Off By Hoofer
Deciding to move part of your business to the cloud is something you will have considered carefully before implementing. You will have gone through every aspect of how this change will help you, your business and your staff. There will have been meetings, planning sessions, budget calculations, a lot of time and effort put into the project, and now you’re excited and eager to get going. It can, therefore, be very disappointing and frustrating to reach this stage of the process and find that when you tell your staff about the changes, they seem at best underwhelmed and quite possibly unhappy and even angry. Why are you getting this reaction, and what can you do about it?

You know it makes sense

When you have analyzed how a change in your business will affect your operations and profits, you are in possession of all the facts and know how beneficial this change will be. You’ve had time to digest every aspect and implication of how this new system will work and you know it will make significant improvements in your productivity and your ability to interact seamlessly with your clients. The problem is that your staff don’t know any of these things! When you gather them together to tell them all about the fantastic new system they’ll be using, they won’t take in all the positives, but will hear words like "change" and "automation." This may cause them to start to worry about the disruption to their routines and even whether this means their job is in danger.

Why staff are change-averse

The first thing to bear in mind is that unlike you, your staff don’t have the same passion and drive that motivates them to improve and expand the business. They are there to do a job and earn a living first and foremost. If you are a good boss and look after the welfare of your staff, then they may well flourish and become invested in the work and the success of the business, but the bottom line is always going to be the paycheck at the end of the month. People are hardwired to be cautious about change in every aspect of their lives because change brings the element of the unknown into their day. It could mean they’d be having to deal with learning new things, which takes extra effort; alterations to familiar and comfortable routines; and worst of all there is the risk that change will affect their livelihood. It’s common to hear people complain that things were fine as they were, why did they have to be changed? If the familiar layout of your grocery store gets altered, you then don’t know where anything is, and it takes you longer to do your shop. The fact that the change was made to improve the flow of the store or add new product ranges that will make the shopping experience better, in the long run, doesn’t help when you can’t find the flour. Fear of the unknown is a basic human instinct, and transferring to the cloud will be very much an unknown quantity for many of your employees.

Understanding your employees’ position

Before you tell your staff about your move to the cloud, you need to think carefully about how they will take the news. In a small business, you probably know each staff member pretty well and will have an idea how different people may react. You might have someone who is very resistant to change and will get quite angry about the whole thing, or you could have someone who is more readily able to embrace change because they understand the benefits it can bring. You need to anticipate the reactions of all the members of your team, and sell the concept to them just as you would sell your product or service to the customer. Point out the benefits to them personally; how will the cloud help them to get their jobs done more efficiently, attract new clients to grow the business, maybe enable the option of working from home. You need to make it clear that the cloud is not a threat to their jobs, that it isn’t going to replace them, but it’s a tool that will make their working lives easier and better.

Showing them that the cloud is nothing to fear

In the case of migrating your systems to the cloud, while it’s a term many people will have heard of, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will be fully understood. If you don’t know much about the cloud, the idea of sending critical business information out into the ether somewhere can sound very risky indeed. The best way to tackle this is by explaining exactly what the cloud is and dismissing the uncertainty caused by lack of understanding. Explain that the cloud just means that information is stored on the internet rather than being on your internal computer system. That it’s no different from all the websites and platforms they use every day. If they can see that the cloud is just a term for using the internet to store data, it will become less threatening. A great way of breaking down resistance to change is to get the staff involved in the process rather than just foisting it upon them. If they can learn more about how websites are constructed and how easy it is to create websites, blogs and online accounts they will have a better understanding of the technology, and thus feel more comfortable using it. Becoming familiar with something, whether it’s a new cell phone, a dog or a computer system breaks down the fear of the unknown, and the new then becomes the familiar. By understanding how the internet works and what function the cloud is performing, your staff will have a clearer picture of how the changes will improve their working day, and the new system will no longer be perceived as a threat.

When it comes to making changes that you know will make your business stronger and more profitable, work hard on getting your staff on board so that they will feel happier, more secure and more willing to adopt the new system. If you do that, you, your business and your staff will all be better off.