Workplace changes — even positive ones — can cause disruption. Employees may resist change due to fear of the unknown, interference with a comfortable routine or just a reluctance to let go of the familiar. Organisations facing major changes should be aware of the potential challenges in order to ensure employee satisfaction, a smooth transition and the ongoing achievement of company objectives.
What kind of situations or circumstances can trigger the fear of change in the workplace? Rousana Nin Sandoval
, who as Aerotek director of implementation specializes in helping organisations successfully conduct transitions, notes that there some commonplace situations that incur a need for change management:
Updated technology solutions
“When your organisation decides to invest in a new technology solution to help bring in additional revenue, streamline tasks, increase collaboration or add new capabilities, your return on investment [ROI] depends on how quickly you can get your workers on board,” Sandoval notes. However, she adds that it’s human nature to be wary of change. Even top-performing staff members may hesitate to embrace changes that alter routines that have been successful for them in the past, while workers who are less than tech-savvy may worry that they won’t get up to speed quickly enough, and risk seeming less competent than peers.
New operational processes and procedures
Adopting new processes or procedures can lead to difficulties similar to technology changes, but there are additional challenges as well, Sandoval explains. “Where the need to stay current in technology may seem like a given, the need for new ways of doing things may be seen as less necessary.” Whereas tech improvements happen often enough to become expected, programmatic changes may cause employers to wonder why their time-tested and seemingly effective ways of doing things are no longer sufficient.
Changes in workplace composition
To manage costs and react to market fluctuations, companies may pursue modifications in the workforce model, including reductions in force (RIF), department consolidations or contingent staffing solutions. Because these changes strike close to home, workers will almost certainly have questions and concerns that need to be addressed.
The key to sustaining productivity during periods of transition can be summed up in one word, Sandoval says: “communication.”
Best practices for change communication
Although it may seem that communication just means telling people what’s happening, effective change management needs to be planned and deployed in a very strategic manner. At the beginning of the process, you’ll determine what success will look like for you. With that in mind, a four-step approach can help secure the outcome you want:
Creating awareness and knowledge
Communication in advance of the change is critical. If employees feel the news has come out of nowhere, they’re more likely to be resistant to adopting the change. Your communication should include the “why,” the specific benefits of the change, especially if you can tie in the change to an improvement in each employee’s work conditions. Determine what you can communicate to which audience and when, to give you the best opportunity for widespread early adoption.
Training and development
Ensuring that employees receive the right training and development will help allay their fears, which can represent the biggest obstacle to accepting change. “The most effective training will provide employees with the capability to make the change work for them,” explains Sandoval.
Creating visibility and follow-up is important, not only to determine that the change has been implemented at the rate you require, but also to show your employees that you are committed to the change and that it’s not just the “flavor of the month,” Sandoval says.
Benchmarking and deliverables
To complete the change management process, assess the deliverables and see how they relate to the benchmarks you developed at the beginning. Are adoption rates where you need them to be? Knowing what worked and what didn’t can help inform the process for the next major change your company undergoes.
The need to stay competitive in an ever-evolving economy means that companies are increasingly seeing change as a constant. Helping to ensure that employees are embracing the change can be an effective strategy for helping propel your company forward.
Want to learn more? Contact Aerotek