Change in the workplace

Managing Change in the Workplace: Preparing Employees to Adjust

Change in the workplace can occur for many reasons. Changes occur because of changes in regulations, to adjust to new competitors, to implement time-saving tools, to address an issue with current policies or procedures, and many other factors exist that make change necessary.

While implementing changes can introduce significant benefits for your company, only 1/3 of changes meet their intended goals. This is because you must get employees on board for these changes to have a real impact.

Whether the change is meant to address a new or updated regulation, or you are introducing a change to drive your company objectives, if your employees aren’t on board, it’s difficult to implement the changes smoothly. Preparing employees for change requires ensuring employees know what to expect, helping them understand how the changes will affect them, and explaining what benefit they will receive from the changes.

Why Do Workplace Changes Fail?

Workplace changes can fail for many reasons, but the primary reasons for failure include:

  • Employee resistance
  • Inadequate resources
  • Leadership resistance
  • Lack of leadership support for employees

Employees resist change for a number of reasons. 41% are resistant if they don’t trust their company. 39% of resistant employees don’t understand why the changes are occurring.

Lack of employee involvement can also lead to workplace change failure. Only 42% of employees feel like they are included when changes are being implemented.

8 Steps to Implement Change in the Workplace

Implementing impactful changes in the workplace requires proper planning, communication, and resources to help incorporate changes smoothly. Your leadership team and your employees should be involved in the process as early as possible for changes to be effective.

Focus on Company Objectives

Any change should be implemented with the goal of driving company goals and objectives. Make sure workplace changes are implemented with these objectives in mind. If the change occurs because of regulations, review company goals to determine the best way to work these regulations into your objectives.

Make sure everyone involved or affected understands how the changes will affect company goals and the expectations laid out for them.

Expect the Unexpected

No matter how well-prepared you and your employees are for upcoming changes, you can’t control everything. You are likely to hit unexpected snags as you begin implementing changes and you need to be ready to adjust to these snags.

Do your best to anticipate issues that could cause problems with implementation. Develop processes based on these potential issues to provide workarounds for potential issues and get your project back on track. Assign a point person to manage the project for implementing the needed changes who can monitor and make adjustments.

Maintain Open Communication

Communicating with employees about change in the workplace isn’t just about telling them change is coming. You need to explain why the change is necessary or beneficial. You need to lay out what is involved with the upcoming changes and how you plan to implement these changes in your company.

Provide data or other resources to show why you plan to implement the change that needs to happen and the benefits you expect to see for your company and your employees by implementing these changes. Share your timeline with employees including steps to help employees learn required skills and adjust to new requirements and responsibilities.

Communicate about any workplace changes in multiple ways. Discuss upcoming changes during meetings and one-on-ones. Email employees with details on what to expect as you roll out changes. Update handbooks to address workplace changes and distribute these updates to employees.

Welcome Employee Feedback

As you communicate about planned changes, encourage employees to ask questions and provide feedback. Make yourself and your leadership team available to discuss any concerns and ensure leadership has resources available to provide clarity.

Before rolling out a change in the workplace, consider the questions employees are likely to ask and plan your responses. Be prepared to answer questions like:

  • Why is this change taking place now?
  • What are the risks involved in not making this change?
  • How will these changes benefit me (the employee)?
  • In what other ways will this change affect me?
  • What are my choices in dealing with these changes?
  • Who was involved in the decision?
  • What if I don’t have time in my daily schedule to learn and implement these changes?

Encourage your leadership team to consider these questions and prepare responses as you begin communicating the changes with employees.

Find Your Employee Ambassadors

Who are the employees you can rely on to show acceptance and excitement about the changes you plan to implement? Start early to determine who your change ambassadors are and get them involved in the process.

Let them be involved so they can help encourage other employees to embrace changes and share the benefits of getting on board. Have them share examples of how these changes will make work easier and more productive.

Provide Training Opportunities

Any change in the workplace will require some training to prepare employees and managers. Provide plenty of training opportunities for employees to help them understand and be ready to implement necessary changes based on their specific roles and responsibilities.

Start training early in the process so employees have plenty of time to get used to what’s coming. This is also an opportunity to address any skill gaps that could create issues when implementing the changes.

Support Employees Through Changes

Your leadership team should be prepared to provide plenty of resources and support as employees adjust to changes in the workplace. Ensure managers are prepared to answer questions, coach employees through the changes, and identify further training opportunities.

Managers should make themselves available as the changes are implemented to ensure employees feel comfortable with the adjustments. Where necessary, look for ways to shift workloads during the transition so employees have time to get acclimated with new processes or responsibilities.

Celebrate Milestones

Change in the workplace can take some time to get right. You will have snags and concerns that could affect your original timeline. Some employees may take a little longer to feel comfortable with adjustments to their regular workflows.

It’s important to celebrate implementation milestones as the changes take effect. Plan what these milestones will be during your planning phase and take the time to reward the successes so you can continue to encourage employees to move forward with the changes.

Create a Culture Ready for Change

How you and your leadership team respond to necessary changes will have a direct impact on how employees respond. It’s important to consider how you communicate and deal with changes to ensure you create a positive atmosphere as processes, policies, and procedures shift.

Sometimes getting a little outside help is beneficial to help the workplace change process run smoothly. If you need guidance or support as you go through a workplace change, learn how HR Service, Inc. can help you navigate the process.

Scroll to Top