Change can be a difficult prospect for many people and understandably so. When changes involve people’s livelihoods and in turn their home life, there’s a lot at stake and it is a situation which should be handled with care.
During a period of change in the workplace, be it through new leadership, an acquisition, integration or rebrand; employees are often left wondering and nervous about how or if their new role will fit within a new structure.
Due to this uncertainty it can be difficult to keep employees engaged, and organisations must make it their main priority to maintain the trust and loyalty of all employees. Financial remuneration will not rebuild long term trust which has been lost and organisational support needs to come into play.
What should you prioritise for employees during a period of change?
1. High Quality Communications
Your employees deserve honest, timely and comprehensive communication at all times. Being direct will help to lessen the impact of rumours and dissuade too much gossip from being spread. If there are details waiting to be worked out, keep your messages simple until concrete answers can be provided. There is nothing worse than being told one thing only for the complete opposite to happen.
2. Actively Listen
Open up forums, allow emails, phone calls and face to face private meetings for your employees to ask their questions and voice their concerns. Your team needs to know that as a business, you are listening to them. Offer opportunities for fears to be calmed and take onboard any suggestions your employees may have, remember that they have important insights into day to day processes, which might have been missed previously.
3. Lead by Example
It’s possible that as a manager or as an HR professional, you will be privy to more information than other employees about the change. It is your responsibility to actively help employee’s work through the new corporate layout and structure. Emphasise that being wary of change is perfectly natural, but that it is important to embrace it. Your staff will look to you for answers, so be honest and approachable, and admit when you don’t know the answers but make real efforts to find them.
Remind staff about the importance of their team role and individual performance and contributions. Ensure that necessary introductions are made between new team members which may occur due to reshuffling. Be prepared to hold meetings and receive phone calls and emails from worried employees.
Change is a difficult prospect in any situation but by keeping things streamlined, honest and simple; you help to ensure that change causes as little disruption as possible. Your employees are your most valuable asset, so it’s in your best interests to make any change as positive an experience as possible. Make sure you continue to reward and recognise your staff for their contribution and efforts throughout. By keeping the flow of work steady, you will help to ensure a smooth transition without straying too far from what was successful in the first place.