What is HR’s Role in Organisational Change?

29th March 2022

Past studies have revealed that nearly 70% of all organisational change initiatives fail in the UK. Why? Leaders often flounder in an alphabet soup of change methods, distracted by conflicting advice and financial targets. Keeping employees informed gets moved to the bottom of their list of priorities.

However, people are what drive business success. Giving employees the tools they need to adapt through organisational change — whether that’s opening new communication channels or offering staff training — will strengthen their resilience, which in turn, boosts the resilience of the company as a whole.

In this article, we will define organisational change, showing how HR teams can lead employees through the process. We also provide some practical tips on how to make sure employees feel supported throughout.

What is organisational change?

Organisational changes are those that have a significant impact on the organisation as a whole. Major shifts in personnel, company goals, service offerings, and operations would all be considered forms of organisational change.

How can HR lead organisational change?

  • Identify issues through communication with employees.
  • Develop a plan and feed this back to management, who will share it with their respective teams.
  • Enact the change and continue to communicate to monitor its impact.
  • Build a culture that is adaptable to change.

How can HR facilitate organisational change?

Change is motivated by both external and internal factors like new laws or internal innovations. HR can facilitate these by:

  • Developing a coherent plan based on the structure of the business and the time required.
  • Communicating the plan to the wider team (studies show that company-wide change efforts are 12 times more likely to be successful when communication is clear).
  • Guiding departments through changes with honesty and transparency.
  • Quickly addressing needs or concerns that arise.

4 types of organisational change

Recognising the need for change and knowing how to make them are two different skills. 

Adapting strategies is key — but where to begin? It all starts with understanding what types of organisational change you’re making.

Strategic transformational change

Strategic transformational changes are larger, gradual changes monitored closely — transformations don’t happen overnight. 

HR teams should make adjustments to internal structures and work closely with employees as the business changes. 

There are 3 ways HR can make sure employees stay happy and engaged throughout strategic transformational change.

  • Employee training and skills development

Training supports existing talent while helping the wider company evolve. It’s important that employees understand that the goal is to support and adapt to new strategies as opposed to fixing deficiencies.

Studies show that frontline employees taking the initiative to educate themselves and drive change actually elevates the success of transformations to 71%.

Training also lets employees see that you’re willing to invest in their personal growth.

  • Introducing new technology

Technology is designed to make our lives easier, but learning curves can make tech-related changes tricky to implement — people tend to stick with what they know.

Make sure employees know why the technology is necessary, what makes it better than previous solutions and how you are going to support them during the transition.

You can build confidence in the change by explaining that the transition will be supported by various change management tools that offer capabilities such as in-app training, weekly check-ins and an internal chat for handling questions.

  • Updating your mission as you grow

When an organisation changes as a whole, its company mission should evolve with it. Make sure your mission statement suits your team by asking them to submit thoughts and goals to form a mission that not only reflects the ideals of your employees but gives the organisation an identity too.

People-centric organisational change

While all changes affect people, people-centric types of organisational change include instituting new parental leave policies, bringing on new hires and changing roles and responsibilities.

HR must navigate people-centric organisational change in a way that keeps current employees informed and makes new ones feel supported.

  • New hires

Be communicative with current employees when onboarding and training new ones. 

Explain the reason for hiring new people: are they going to lighten the workload or fill skill gaps? Be ready to answer the “what’s in it for me?”- type questions and have a solid plan to avoid negative reactions.

  • Roles and responsibilities

Of course, shaking up routines and restructuring teams can be a delicate process, so it’s essential to have a strategy for change implementation as well as a communication plan to support.

Structural change

Structural changes to an organisation overlap with people-centric changes. Shifts in management hierarchy always have a ripple effect, causing significant changes to departmental responsibilities and expectations.

92% of change practitioners named flexible management as one of the most important influencers for successful structural change.

Here are 2 ways HR can make structural change as smooth as possible — especially when salary cuts, loss of benefits, downgrading in job position, job loss or relocation are involved.

  • Respect your teams

HR has a major role in ensuring organisational and structural changes are identified, developed and carried out in a respectful way.

  • Be transparent

Showing your own capacity to change will set an example for other teams. Informing others of the changes within your own department will provide insight for success. Sharing knowledge is the best way to create a company culture that encourages support from one employee to another.

Remedial change

Remedial change is planned to remedy current situations, such as increasing efficiency, reducing burnout and retaining talent.

Remedial change can be categorised in 3 ways.

  • Dealing with loss of talent

Unexpected changes in personnel are difficult to prepare for, but damage control means acting quickly. If you are blindsided, take some time to put together a statement. Announcing an employee’s departure before you have answers to the inevitable questions is a recipe for disaster.

  • Reducing burnout

Help teams manage stress, anxiety and burnout by encouraging them to keep their wellbeing top of mind.

Give employees ongoing access to advice and best practices. For example, you could develop a network of external wellbeing coaches. Managers should also encourage their team members to use the available resources.

Using Trickle to support your teams through organisational change

Collaboration, engagement, recognition and wellbeing are at the heart of Trickle, keeping your employees connected and engaged during significant change and uncertainty.

Some key features are:

  • Fist Bump — this is a great way to give praise, recognise someone for their efforts and encourage peer-to-peer support through stressful times.
  • Shout Abouts — these are a great way to keep everyone informed of important information. You can share company news and celebrate team wins. These announcements appear in the Activity Feed for everyone to see and high-five virtually.
  • MoodSense — this lets you gauge employee feelings in real-time, helping you identify where grievances lie so that you can jump on issues before they become long-term problems.
  • “How Was Your Day?” — This feature is a simple question that when answered daily, gives employees an understanding of what’s contributing both positively and negatively to their wellbeing. Log answers in Trickle to make a weekly report that empowers employees to make positive changes. It’s a way to put forward suggestions for improvement that benefit them and the wider teams.

Find a comprehensive list of all Trickle’s features here. Book a free demo today.

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