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Many clients have asked me for advice on how to improve user adoption – I propose however that it’s not user adoption they need, it’s engagement! There are multiple schools of thought on the difference between adoption and engagement, but for the purpose of this blog post, here’s my stance:

Adoption – users have accepted that a new process or program has been put in place and used it at least once

Engagement – users find benefit and value from the process or program on an ongoing basis

I think of adoption as being a more selfish objective. “I want you to adopt this new process or program that I have created for you.” I like to think of engagement however, as showing users the value they will gain. “Here is what this new process or program will do for you.” With any action you take to implement change, remember that people are most motivated by what’s in it for them.

Considering Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Self-Esteem and Self-Actualization are two needs that can be fulfilled in the workplace. Engagement is all about fulfilling our highest order need – Self-Actualization. When you have a new tool that helps you more easily achieve the results you’re looking for, that’s the ultimate form of fulfillment, and hence, the most perfect form of engagement you could hope for! I’m not suggesting your users are going to go home from work and have happy dreams of a VelocityEHS software heaven, but you can certainly help them make VelocityEHS software be the tool they want to use to do a great job.

Let’s compare Google+ to Facebook. If you’re like me, you have a Gmail account – and therefore you also have a Google+ account. I was intrigued when it first came out, I poked around a little bit, created my “circles” and then that was that. Now, I just click on the little red annoying flag on my screen that appears when someone has added me to their circle – not because I want to see what’s going on in the Google+ world, but because I hate having something flashing at me…its very distracting! Facebook on the other hand, is a completely different story. I love being able to pick and choose what I want to see more or less of, easily navigating through pictures, articles and comments. I am able to control my Facebook experience and get the results I need. I can do this easily and with convenience. It’s almost as if Facebook was designed just for me! Wait… maybe that’s the feeling the folks at Facebook WANT me to have… hmmm… now THAT’S engagement.

Let’s consider the impact of having engaged VelocityEHS users. Think of VelocityEHS software as a means to accomplish the goals of your EHS program. When a user is engaged with the tool, it is a means of engagement with your programs, which are all targeted at achieving organizational goals, such as:

• Reducing injuries by providing ownership of workplace safety through programs for reporting hazards and unsafe behaviors

• Maintaining environmental compliance

• Reducing risk by improving the quality of change control in your organization

• Reducing greenhouse gases

• Ensuring training compliance

• Etc.

Additionally, engagement has a direct impact on the volume and quality of data collected, and therefore on the quality of information available for reporting. The impact of this engagement can be truly incredible!

The pièce de résistance is successfully achieving user engagement. A good engagement strategy is created during the planning and development stages of a software implementation project, and then kicks into high gear after the software is implemented and live – it draws people in and gets them hooked! Engagement can happen at any point in time – most often though, it has a higher chance of occurring immediately after the change has been introduced. With curiosity at its peak people are more open to change.

Once you’re ready to go live with your VelocityEHS system, congratulations! You’ve accomplished step #1 – but now comes the hard part: engaging your users so they want to use it because they buy into the benefits of doing so. Here are four tips for engaging your users:

1. Don’t surprise your users with the change – introduce it to them early on so they can anticipate it coming. People fit into one of two camps: “YAY change!” OR “EEEK I don’t like change!” This first step is really designed to help people in the latter group.

2. Show your users where they fit into the process – they need to see how their efforts impact the next step and so on. Understanding their role in the big picture is a great tool for gaining perspective.

3. Use relatable reference points – do some name dropping! People resonate more easily with things that are familiar so throw in the names of some Supervisors or Managers that are recognizable.
And now, my personal favorite…

4. Teach your users how to get the results they need from the system – you’ve worked with us to design and build this perfect solution to meet your needs, but it’s your users who are going to get you the results!

Fostering user engagement is a big task – it’s ongoing and requires an adaptable approach. The good news is that you’re not alone in your endeavors. VelocityEHS to the rescue! Of course, we recognize that while we may be the software experts, YOU are the engagement experts. We welcome any feedback you may have for us to make improvements . This is a two way relationship and we highly regard our client suggestions. Remember, it’s not me, IT’S YOU!

Selin Jessani is a Learning & Development Manager at VelocityEHS