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Coping with Change in the Workplace.

Change can often trigger negative emotions, including anger, stress, fear, and anxiety. Managing change can be a real challenge for…

Coping with Change in the Workplace

11th May 2023

Office Workplace

Change can often trigger negative emotions, including anger, stress, fear, and anxiety. Managing change can be a real challenge for some, especially if they associate it with loss of control. However, change is also essential for business. Embracing change allows businesses to innovate and grow, remaining strong and resilient.

A perfect example of this was during the Covid-19 pandemic. Change was rife and often implemented at short notice. Navigating out of the pandemic and through the ensuing cost-of-living crisis has brought yet more changes for businesses, including:

  • Moving from a 5-day week model to a 4-day week model
  • Returning to in-office working
  • Managing redundancies
  • Companies being brought out by other organisations
  • Adjusting to new employees and management

 

Bertrand Stern-Gillet, CEO at Health Assured, says “Managing and implementing change in the workplace isn’t always an easy task. If done wrong, it can lead to resistance from employees and friction between colleagues. If not managed properly, this can spread, leading to a hostile and unhealthy work environment.

“You need to ensure workplace change doesn’t lead to conflicting management, poor attitudes, or dissatisfaction. Here are some tips to help support employees through times of change:

 

1. Introduce change step-by-step 

“When habits and routines are ingrained into everyday life, change can trigger a range of thoughts and emotions. That’s why it’s so important to introduce change step-by-step, all the while making sure they are fair and reasonable. By doing so, you can allow employees to acclimatise to workplace changes. Take it slow and refrain from making big shifts all at once. Stagger changes at a steady pace. By doing so, you reduce the risk of employees feeling out of their depths in unfamiliar surroundings.

 

2. Share decision-making with your employees

“It’s important to keep employees up to date with any changes and give them the chance to give feedback or input. Some of the best ways to share the decision-making process with your employees include:

    • Employee surveys
    • Peer group sessions
    • One-to-one conversations

“When employees, line managers, and decision-makers collectively share opinions and ideas, it leads to stronger decisions. Communication is clear and everyone is engaged in the process.

 

3. Identify and address resistance 

“Resistance to change can come in many different forms. So, it’s important to try to spot the signs that employees may be struggling after changes have been implemented. Look out for:

    • Disengagement
    • Conflict with colleagues and managers
    • Decreased motivation or engagement
    • Criticism of policies or procedures
    • Increased absence rates

“It’s important to address these signs as soon as possible. Be empathetic and make sure employees know they can share their feelings in a safe and confidential space. Build trust, champion open communication, and hear their voices.

 

4. Maintain open communication

“Helping employees cope with change involves a consistent line of communication. You can do this by providing regular updates on ongoing progress. It’s so important to explain why changes are taking place, and how these changes will contribute towards shared organisational goals.

 

5. Be empathetic

“Every employee is different so be personal and empathetic with each response. Understand the impact changes may have on each person, from daily routine to overall life. To you, a workplace change might mean everyone arrives to work on time. But think about how it can affect parents, long-distant commuters, or anyone with health issues. Neurodiverse individuals may find it more challenging to deal with change than neurotypical employees, so bear this in mind and provide additional support where required.”

Categories: Advice, Articles, Franchise

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