From Skepticism to Success: Tactics for Embracing Digital Recruitment Tools

Guides & Reports Carl-Johan Holmberg

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By implementing digital recruitment tools, organisations can increase objectivity in hiring decisions, save time, and reduce costs.1,2 However, implementing new digital tools and changing established ways of working is often easier said than done. Studies have shown that 70% of planned organisational changes fail to achieve the expected results.3,4

In this article, you'll find common sources of resistance and tactics that can be used to mitigate them. And a limited-time offer at the end of the article👇🏼

Key Points:

  • Resistance to change can prevent organisations from successfully implementing digital recruitment tools.

  • The resistance can stem from various factors at the individual, group, and organisational level.

  • By adopting different tactics, organisations can mitigate resistance and increase the likelihood of a successful implementation of digital recruitment tools.

Resistance to Change💭

A frequently cited reason for failed organisational changes is resistance to change.5 Concerning the digitalisation and automation of recruitment procedures, such changes can significantly affect both recruiters and hiring managers.

The reasons for resistance can vary between organisations, groups, and individuals. Common sources of resistance to change at the individual and group level are described below:

1. What's in It For Me?

At the individual level, a common source of resistance is when the employee cannot see the benefit of the change, and instead fear ending up in a worse situation than the present.6 For example, when recruitment activities are digitalised and automated, recruiters may believe that they will be redundant, which can lead to a fear of unemployment.1,7

When employees fear that a change will make them lose something of value, they are likely to either refuse the change or drag their feet to delay the implementation of the change.6

2. We’re Not Gonna Take It

At the group level, resistance to change can be triggered by a fear that the group’s power and influence in the organisation will be reduced.8 When implementing digital recruitment tools, the group of employees who work with recruitment may fear that they will lose influence over the design of the recruitment process.

A psychological phenomenon that is worth highlighting in the context of resistance at the group level is groupthink, which is characterised by high pressure on conformity and that it is more important to remain part of the group than to participate in the change process.9 Such forces can cause group members to resist the change, even though at the individual level they may be positive to the change.

Tactics to Mitigate Resistance to Change🌱

Resistance to change introduces costs and delays into the change process.10 Thus, in order to take full advantage of digital recruitment tools and get every affected employee to use the tools, organisations should be equipped to deal with resistance to change when changing the way of working. Below are some tactics that can be used to mitigate resistance to change at both the individual and group level:

Tactics at an Individual Level

1. Communicate Purpose and Employee Benefits

As previously mentioned, employees tend to resist changes if they cannot see how they will benefit from the changed way of working. Therefore, communicating the purpose of the change and explaining how the change will benefit the employee is crucial for the employee to accept the change.11,12

For example, in the case of moving from traditional to digital reference checking, it may be worth emphasising that the employee will get more time for more meaningful tasks than chasing referees over the phone.

2. Address Concerns and Fears

It is also crucial to address the concerns and fears that employees may have.13 Regarding the aforementioned concern about unemployment, recent studies show that recruiters should not fear their replacement by new technologies.7

Instead, digital recruitment tools are usually designed to assist recruiters in their daily work. Such information can reassure the employees and make them more positive about using digital tools.

3. Communicate the Essence of the Change

Facing new ways of working can be stressful, thus making employees reluctant to give up old habits.14 By communicating the essence of the change at an early stage, employees will be familiar with the change, and their feelings of uncertainty will be alleviated, thus reducing resistance.11

When provided with learning activities such as training and education, employees are often willing to help implement the change.6,15

Tactics at Group Level

1. Have a Group Ambassador

If there is a collective resistance to change (e.g., among a group of recruiters), you can try to get one of the individual group members to realise the benefits of the change and get that person to speak well of the change in front of the other group members.

Groups are more likely to adopt a message if it is presented by someone within their group.16

2. Appeal to Group Values and Attributes

Another tactic to use when there is a collective resistance to change is to appeal to the values and attributes of the group. This has been tested within the field of political psychology. For example, conservatives tend to be less likely than others to participate in proenvironmental activities.17 

However, a study showed that when proenvironmental activities were described as patriotic (e.g., “Being proenvironmental allows us to protect and preserve the American way of life.”), conservatives showed stronger intentions to engage in proenvironmental activities.18 

Thus, if the transition to digital recruitment tools is described as compatible with the values and attributes of the group in question (e.g., "modern" or "efficient"), chances are the group will be more positive to accept the change.

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