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Don't Let Organizational Change Drive Great Employees Out the Door

Change management is critical for supporting employees as they undergo organizational change initiatives. The initiatives could be created by humans, such as corporate restructuring or a big technology rollout. Or the big change could be related to market shifts that cause layoffs or even a big hiring push.

Regardless of whether changes are initiated from within or outside an organization, on average, only 34% succeed.

Why is the success rate so low?

One big area of failure is how staff are managed during these times of coordinated chaos. If your organization is changing, here's what you can do to ensure the upheaval, whether it's viewed as bad or good, doesn't cause you to lose your best employees.

How to Handle Your Employees During Changing Times

The Harvard Business Review says, "Employees' resistance to change is a leading factor for why so many change transformations fail." They suggest the biggest mistake you can make during times of transition is to fail to share the "why" behind the change with employees.

During uncertain times, people look for meaning and a roadmap to get through the upheaval. This is true no matter the change initiative. Take time to communicate the core purpose behind why these changes are happening. For example:

  • Is the organization downsizing to ensure security for the future?
  • Are you shifting into new markets to shore up your bottom line?
  • How are the changes you're making today ensuring the company's security and well-being for tomorrow?

Studies show that continuous communication during changing times is a critical factor in the success of the transformation. But the process involves more than sharing that an organizational change is coming. Instead, most employees want to understand the reasons for the shifts affecting their work lives.

Answering your team's questions will help them handle their uncertainty and stress around what's next for your organization.

Five Change Management Tips for HR Professionals

In addition to communication, focus on initiatives that prevent burnout that can come with a big organizational shift. Here are five things you can do right now to help manage employee expectations around organizational change.

  1. Give your employees the time and space to embrace change. This may require bringing in temporary staff to work on the change-related projects while freeing up your existing teams to focus on the mindset shift necessary to embrace change. Researchers call this the "change curve." Interestingly, the change curve follows some similar patterns to our grieving process. Shock, denial, anger, and depression all follow the death of someone we love - but also a big change in the workplace. Make accommodations to support your workforce to ensure you don't lose key players during these changes.
  2. Listen as much as you talk. Put a feedback mechanism in place to ensure employees feel heard during times of significant change. If your organization is large, consider employee well-being surveys. For smaller organizations, transparency in meetings should allow honest feedback, but there should also be a way to share questions anonymously. The idea is that you have a way to gather real feedback from employees during times of organizational evolution.
  3. Grow comfortable with "I don't know." Creating transparency and authenticity during organizational change may require you to admit that you don't have all the answers. Stay focused on what you know and your company's path, but also be candid with employees when you need clarification or flat out don't know the answer.
  4. Ask for help. What's wrong with asking your employees for help? Consider opening change management-related questions to the group and asking employees what they think is the best course of action. This is one way to engage employees in your organization's success. The idea, ultimately, is that the change is not happening to the employee but with them. You want to create the feeling that you can climb this mountain together - and that employees are a key part of reaching the summit.
  5. Equip managers to lead through the change. Organizational transformation is five times more likely to succeed when leaders and managers model successful coping strategies and behavioral changes. Your team managers need the information and resources to lead through the change. Remember that they are experiencing pressure on the ground in the form of questions and concerns. If you don't give managers the tools and resources they need to support their teams, not only are employees vulnerable to flight - so are front-line leaders and managers.

Implementing change in your company?

Here are three ways your staffing partner can make change smoother and more successful:

  1. Bring in specialized temporary or contract staff to accelerate change initiatives.
  2. Offload low-priority work to temporary staff, so your core team can focus on implementing change initiatives.
  3. Reduce the overwhelm and burnout that can come with major organizational changes by supporting your staff with flexible temporary staff.

Get in touch with your staffing partner today.