News | January 19, 1999

People Issues Come With Technology Upgrades

While organizations are upgrading their technology to fix the Year 2000 bug and better manage their businesses in the new millennium, most companies will also be dealing with a variety of human resource issues these technological improvements raise, according to a survey by Manchester, a human capital services firm.

Eighty-four percent of organizations said they are upgrading their technology to address the Year 2000 problem, as well as to improve business processes such as production, inventory, and accounting. The Modis Professional Services subsidiary surveyed 390 U.S. companies as part of the study.

The top human resource issues that organizations say they will need to address as a result of implementing new technology, according to the survey, are:

  • Recruitment (selected by 69% of respondents)
  • Training (66%)
  • Managing change (65%)
  • Communication (64%)
  • Retention (57%)
  • Leadership (55%)
  • Team-building (54%)
  • Morale (45%)
  • Productivity (41%)
  • Downsizing (18%)
  • Redeployment (18%)

"Hiring people with the right kinds of skills and training employees in how to use new technology are only two of the elements needed to ensure that the full benefits of new technology are realized," said James K. Schwab, Manchester president and chief executive officer. "Organizations need to communicate to employees how new technology fits into the overall business. They also need to train employees in how to deal with the many changes in workplace processes and working relationships that will occur due to new technology."

The surveyed organizations also expect information systems to experience the greatest amount of change due to the implementation of new technology (chosen by 55% of respondents). Other functions that companies expect to see change are: human resources (37%), accounting/finance (35%), operations/production (35%), customer service (31%), sales/marketing (21%), management, and administration (both with 16%).

Organizations expect their legal departments to be the least affected by the introduction of new technology (selected by 3%), followed by research & development (5%), and engineering (9%).

Almost all of the organizations surveyed (93%) said their human resource departments will be involved in their implementation of new technology. 25% said their human resource departments would be very involved, 41% said their HR departments would be moderately involved, and 27% said the HR departments would be somewhat involved. Only 7% said their human resource departments wouldn't be involved at all.