How to Deal with Change Management in the Workplace

15th August 2022

Change is something that the overwhelming majority of employees will experience in their careers. A study by Gartner found that the average organisation had undergone at least five major business transformations from 2017-2020.  

Additionally, since the start of the pandemic, workplaces worldwide have been forced to adapt to the evolving public health crisis. The rise of remote working technologies, restrictions on movement, and delays in supply chains has, for some organisations, permanently altered the way they operate. Furthermore, it’s predicted that an estimated 75% of companies will undergo more business transformations over the next few years. 

While most employees may expect organisations to change over time, not everyone knows how to adapt their everyday routine to accommodate new ways of working. For example, some people may struggle to learn new technologies, perform new processes, or pick up the extra workload from team members who have left their company. 

Coping with change at work isn’t easy for anyone. So, company leaders and managers need to understand the impact of good change management strategies on their organisation’s success.

This article will discuss the challenges organisational change creates and offer some tips on dealing with change management in the workplace. 

Why change management strategies are crucial

All successful companies undergo stages of metamorphosis as a vital part of their growth. For example, an organisation might go through the mergers and acquisitions (M&A) process, face redundancies, or expand their operations to cover new services, territories or products. 

Change through normal business cycles is somewhat predictable, so change management strategies can be used to make these transition periods as smooth as possible. However, change can also result from external factors, such as new competitors entering the market, changes to regulations, technological developments, or even natural disasters. In these circumstances, it can be difficult for business leaders to manage sudden shifts in working practices. Employee stress levels can rise under the increased business pressures, and productivity and engagement levels may begin to fall. 

Managers and HR teams play a pivotal role in managing the effects of employee stress on workplace culture. But sadly, 70% of company transformation projects fall short of success, with many people citing a lack of support as one of the main reasons businesses fail to adapt to change.  

Therefore, creating a flexible change management strategy (suitable for predictable and unpredictable changes) should be a top priority for all organisations. As such, you must deploy strategies that help manage and motivate teams while your business adjusts to its new operating environment. 

Why coping with change at work isn’t always easy for managers

Managers and business leaders face a number of challenges in developing and executing successful change management strategies, including:

1. Higher employee attrition rates

A third of employees acquired through M&As leave during the first year of their company’s restructuring. Many employees surveyed report a mismatch in workplace culture as contributing to their decision to leave their roles. High employee turnover rates are a significant issue as finding people to cover the increasing workload pressures hiring managers into filling vacant positions quickly, rather than searching for the most ideal candidates for the company. 

2. Employees who are resistant to change

Change requires extra effort, so some employees may become stressed/anxious with their new workload. It’s also possible that team members are opposed to business transformation goals or methods. As a result, some team members may start gossiping with colleagues or negatively impacting company morale with their behaviour. 

Inertia and resistance to change can make it difficult to maintain employee engagement across teams. In these scenarios, managers need to find ways to check in with individuals, to find out if they have any questions about the business transformation. Or, find out how people are coping with change at work and what issues might be lowering their satisfaction with their role. 

3. Differentiating the needs of separate teams

During periods of business transformation, a certain amount of ‘testing’ is required, to make sure that new modes of working are effective, before they are brought in for all staff. Simultaneously, businesses need to ensure a level of continuity with their old working systems while new models are being refined. Incremental company change can be a problem for fast-moving companies, as some departments may not be informed of transformation plans in great detail. Consequently, miscommunications can become more frequent. 

Therefore, teams need an effective method for boosting transparency between all departments of an organisation. Increasing channels of communication between different teams allows for greater collaboration and faster resolution of workplace transformation issues. 

How to deal with change management in the workplace

Employee engagement software is a crucial tool for helping companies execute successful change management projects. For instance, platforms like Trickle can help organisations:

  • Create an open forum to share ideas on how companies can get the best out of new initiatives. You can categorise employee discussion topics into a ‘Top 5’ order of priority. Discussion forums allow teams to make better decisions based on prioritising the issues that mean the most to people.
  • Check-in with individual team members’ feelings about your business transformation initiatives. Trickle can be used to find out how change affects employees’ work/life balance and daily activities. Using an employee engagement tool to measure your team’s mood can help managers assess who may need extra support through business transitions. 
  • Use anonymity and create a psychologically safe space for employees to share their concerns about a company’s changes. To find out more how anonymous messaging can help boost employee engagement, take a look at this article
  • Reward your team’s efforts as they work hard through the company’s transition phase. Rewards can be as simple as acknowledging that a team member performed well on a specific task. Giving the rest of your staff the chance to offer their colleagues kudos can promote a positive working culture, where people feel appreciated for their talents. 

Trickle’s engagement platform can help your team embrace change

Trickle is an engaging and easy-to-use platform that gathers employee insights and boosts company morale. Throughout business transformation projects, business leaders and managers can use Trickle to refine their employee engagement strategies and ensure that everyone feels on board with your business’ evolving goals. 

If you want to learn more about Trickle’s great features, get in touch for a free Trickle demo.

Download our ‘Change Management’ infographic by clicking here.

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