Managing change

Workplace change is usually motivated by either a need to adapt, for example to meet new regulatory requirements or to weather the economic climate, or by a proactive vision to evolve and improve.

External challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic can have a dramatic impact on a business, resulting in the need to make changes to your business model, such as restructuring or introducing new technology and processes, all of which will have an impact on your employees.

We often see clients diving right into implementing workplace change when, all of a sudden, the “change management” conversation crops up as an afterthought with inadequate planning.

Factoring change management in too late can cause:

  • a rough transition

  • a lack of advocacy

  • a vague “change” vision

  • overall resistance

  • workplace conflict, and

  • decreased sustainability of the change required

There is also the risk of claims and penalties against the employer. Before you dive into any hiring or firing of staff, always review your employment obligations!

Regardless of the type of workplace change, having an effective change management strategy not only helps employees adapt, but it can also create stronger bonds between you and your employees by ‘taking them on the journey with you’.

Here are 4 key strategies for managing workplace change:

1. Create a “Change Impact Statement”

Your Change Impact Statement will be an important resource for decision-making and communications throughout the process. It should include your business reasons for the change and an assessment of how the changes are expected to affect your key stakeholders.

2. Communication & Consultation

Your staff are key stakeholders. It is important to consult with staff by listening to their feelings and ideas, and identifying any personal impact. Using the example of COVID-19 restrictions, it would be appropriate to consult with employees, to hear their ideas and concerns regarding flexible working arrangements or workplace health & safety.

You should also have a communication plan that supports the change process. Regular, transparent updates will help to mitigate fear and build trust. This is really important. The more you communicate, the better your staff will adapt to the changes.

3. Support

The impact of workplace change on the mental health of your employees cannot be underestimated. Identify what avenues of support are available to help your staff adapt to the change. This may include a contact support officer, Employee Assistance Program (EAP), and training programs. Make sure you communicate regularly with staff regarding what support is available and how they can access it.

4. Review

Assessing your results, implementing corrective actions and celebrating your successes are all key components of reviewing the change process. Done well, reviews and self-assessments of your change management strategy will promote continuous improvement of your processes and culture.

WorkPlacePLUS can help you implement a thoughtful change management strategy. For more information, please contact us today.

The full version of this article was published in the Spring Edition of OTA’s Connections Magazine. Find it on our Media page.