There are times when changes at work aren’t avoidable
But that doesn’t make it any easier on all employees involved
Work takes up a large chunk of our day to day lives; we form friendships with colleagues, we develop a routine and it can be emotional fulfilling. So, it’s understandable that going through a change can be unsettling for everyone.
This can make your people feel anxious, stressed, or worried and therefore impact their wellbeing and engagement levels.
During and after a change your employee’s might be concerned about:
- Job security – is my position under threat? Are the rest of my team safe?
- Loss of income – how will a withdrawal of annual bonuses/cancellation of pay rises affect my plans?
- New processes – how will my department be affected by the change? Will training be provided?
- Leadership uncertainty – who do I report to now? Will this impact my role?
- New responsibilities – how will my schedule change, where can I get support, and what are my new targets?
- Communication and acknowledgement – will my input and feedback be taken on board?
- Recognition - are my contributions noticed and important to the business?
- The future of the business – what are the core reasons for these changes? Is this a red herring for more significant company transformations?
As well as helping your employees through that during changes like restructure, redundancies or changed to management. Is important to continue that focus on your employees long after your business changes have been finalised.
The impact of changes on your workforce:
According to the CIPD, there are 3 broad categories of people who will be affected by changes like restructuring and redundancies differently. These are ‘victims’ – those whose jobs are being directly affected, ‘survivors’ – those who will remain with your organisation after a redundancy and ‘redundancy envoys’ – the individuals who have implemented the redundancies.
‘Survivors’ of a change might experience:
- Increased workload
- Emotions like guilt, envy, anger or relief
- Job insecurity
- Managing higher levels of stress, absenteeism, mistrust
- Decreased employee involvement
- Decreased trust towards management
- Working in an environment with possible decreased work quality, morale, or productivity
Those individuals who were responsible for implementing the redundancies could experience feelings like: fear, frustration, guilt, anger, embarrassment, shock, envy, or blame.
Here’s how you can look after your employee’s wellbeing and keep engagement levels high after a change:
Make sure those who were directly affected by you change were treated with respect:
One of the biggest impacts on your employee’s wellbeing is how well those who were directly affected by the change were treated. If the process was clear and respectful for the ‘victims’ it can help reduce feelings of guilt for the ‘survivors’ as well as building trust and confidence in your leadership team.
Make sure to continue to communicate regularly:
At any time of year, keeping your employees up to date with what is going on is key. Transparent communications can help with any worry for your employees, it also contributes to employees feeling trusted and respected.
It’s also important to make sure the communication is two-way. As well as informing them of key things going on internally, it’s best to listen to your employees concerns and treat difficult situations with empathy, consideration and show that they are valued.
Highlight the importance of wellbeing:
Undoubtedly, change can leave some feeling a little frazzled. Perhaps there are new workloads to tackle, new software to master, and new colleagues and leaders to get acquainted with. All these things can be a little overwhelming.
Prioritising mental health and physical wellbeing will help your employees to handle their new environment with a more positive and proactive outlook.
Encouraging a healthy work-life balance and offering an effective support network will go a long way to reducing stress and keeping your team engaged.
Not only is it the right thing to do, but caring company cultures also have higher rates of retention. You could consider introducing an employee assistance programme (eap) which offers confidential mental health support from accredited counsellors, your employees will be better equipped to deal with work and life's inevitable shake-ups.
Don't forget that physical wellbeing also impacts performance. You could consider offering flexible working hours so that employees can go for a lunchtime jog to help to keep them refreshed and energised. Let your team know that taking adequate lunch breaks, going home on time, and engaging in hobbies and physical activities that inspire and motivate them is encouraged and supported by your organisation. Make sure your senior leadership are leading by example, whether it’s sharing what hobbies they’re trying, or having them not be online outside of working hours, will go a long way to making sure employees feel like they can too.
Provide access to training:
Set your employees up for success by providing them with the right training opportunities. Change can often mean the introduction of new systems, tools, or processes. It's a lot to take in.
Reassure your employees that they play an essential role in your vision for the company's future by empowering them with the knowledge and skills to embrace and thrive in their new setup.
Great learning can happen through:
- Online courses or training resources
- An in-house mentorship programme
- Formalised personal development schedules
- Opportunities to attend industry events
When your employees notice that you're dedicated to upskilling and improving their capabilities, they will feel confident and engaged in their roles – even if those roles look a little different now.
Once your team has a handle on all the new protocols, you'll find that the transition moves quickly and that your business is able to resume productivity and profitability faster.
Recognise and reward:
The ability to adapt is something many employers look for in a candidate's CV. However, it's important not to downplay how difficult going through a change can be for employees, no matter how adaptable they are.
Most transitions will have a few pain points, and it's worth noticing and commending the team players that rise to the challenge, help and support their colleagues, and show a real commitment to overcoming the inevitable bumps in the road.
On-the-spot recognition will help to keep your staff motivated to continue with the training and adaptation process, so don't hold out on the (virtual) high-fives. And don't keep your praise a secret, commend colleagues in front of their peers.
Get more support:
Coming out of a big change isn’t necessarily easy, but you don’t have to tackle it alone.
Taking advantage of additional support from experts in employee motivation and engagement, can really help steer you and your employees through the difficult periods and after – it’s what they do! They can help employees get on board with your new vision and make a success of the transformation the company has undertaken.
We can help, using our experience and purpose-built tools to support leaders and employees with tailored rewards, recognition schemes, and our highly acclaimed employee assistance programmes.
If your company is facing a transformation, get in touch with us today to see how we can help make things as smooth as possible for everyone in your organisation.