Many have heard of Connected Worker Systems, and those who haven’t will likely hear in the near future. As companies begin rolling out new  and involved programs, workers will see and hear information in various form and pieces which will contribute to the success or failure of the program. Could connected worker systems in reality drive a wedge between the workers and company leadership? The following scenarios filter common connected worker phrases through the ears of a worker. Real or not, the resulting opinions will create a resistance that can overpower the benefits hoped for in the connected worker program.

But the scenarios don’t need to play out like this. Behind each opinion is a win/win truth in which both the management and workers need to see the benefit.

Message 1

“ Our new connected worker solution allows managers to monitor employees and equipment on job sites. We will have near-real-time information on the location and status of critical employees and assets.”
What the employee hears: “This technology will allow my boss to see everything I’m doing.”

What the employee fears will happen:

  • I will get in trouble.
  • The information will be used against me.
  • He/she will find reasons to reprimand me.
  • My behavior will be used as a negative example for others.

How the employee feels:

  • My employer/boss doesn’t trust me or believe in me.
  • I’m doing something wrong and “they” want evidence to prove it.
  • My employer/boss doesn’t care about me, he/she only cares about money/the business.


Reality: The client cares about protecting the safety of its employees and its equipment. Both are valued assets. Loss of people is irreplaceable and tragic; loss of equipment is financially costly. Both have the potential to negatively impact the company’s reputation for safety, its ability to attract and retain top talent, and its revenue and earnings potential.

Message 2

“The smart device you will wear enables a new level of communication between management and team members. Now teams and their supervisors will always be connected.”

What the employee hears: “My boss or co-workers will constantly be bothering me, interrupting my work and telling me what to do.”

What the employee fears will happen:

  • I will have to check-in constantly with my boss.
  • My productivity will suffer—I won’t be able to concentrate on what I’m doing because I’m always interrupted.
  • My coworkers will know what I’m doing at all times and will judge me or report on me.

How the employee feels:

  • My employer/boss doesn’t trust me.
  • My co-workers are watching me.
  • I’m doing something wrong and “they” want evidence to prove it.

Reality: The client cares about employee safety and considers maintaining a safe work environment to be its top priority. By utilizing a top-of-the-line communication system equipped with radio technologies, the client ensures that crews and managers can communicate in real-time around-the-clock, preventing injuries and accidents and ensuring that help is on-the-scene immediately in the event of a life-threatening incident.

Message 3

“This is a fully customizable, state-of-the-art connected worker solution. The wearable device enables constant contact between team members using text messaging, audible cues and alerts, and screen displays. We can sound an alarm or share timely information within seconds at the touch of a button.”

What the employee hears: “This technology is sophisticated and highly technical. My job is in jeopardy.”

What the employee fears will happen:

  • I will use the technology incorrectly.
  • I will break or lose the technology.
  • I will forget to bring the technology to work with me.
  • I won’t be able to learn how to use this technology because I’m too old/not smart enough.
  • I will make a mistake/cause an accident while using this technology.
  • The technology will weigh me down or interfere with my ability to move or perform my job easily.
  • My productivity will suffer—or will be judged—because I don’t understand or know how to use this technology.
  • It will take me too long to learn the new technology.
  • The technology will replace real people on our worksite.
  • The technology won’t allow me to interact with my coworkers the way that I used to.

How the employee feels:

  • Insecure
  • Worried
  • Fearful
  • Apprehensive
  • Nervous

Reality: The client cares about employee and plant safety and also wants to stay ahead of the competition. By adopting innovative, cutting-edge technologies like SmartConnect’s connected worker solution, the client is investing in its employees and its workplace and ensuring that its workers and work environments stay safe while staying abreast with or ahead of the competition.

Tactics for Combating Resistance to Change

  1. Provide team members (managers and teammates) with detailed training on how to use the device. This includes learning what the device does, how/where to wear it, how to operate it, and when to use it.
  2. Provide transparent disclosure of why the device/software is being implemented, what the device and software can do, how it helps the team, and the safety and performance value it brings.
  3. Share why the change is being made (provide data supporting operational inefficiencies; state the need to stay competitive; recoup or prevent loss of revenue, etc.). Don’t assume the problem (or the solution) is too complicated for workers to understand.
  4. Host candid Q&A sessions that address any fears or apprehensions workers may feel about using the device. Openly address any concerns that are expressed. If an answer is not available, leaders must acknowledge that they don’t know the answer (or state they are aware of the problem but don’t yet have a solution) and commit to finding a solution and delivering a timely response. Note: The solution/answer must be shared within a reasonable amount of time—and be easily accessible/retrievable by all employees—to build and retain trust.
  5. Openly share any issues/frustrations encountered while using the technology, as well as any tips, tricks, and solutions.
  6. Be receptive to feedback; show commitment to understanding and working together to find a solution/common ground.
  7. Be open to acceptance and resistance—but don’t expect all workers to react the same.
  8. Use resistance as a useful red flag—it’s often a signal that something is going wrong.