11 Ways to Help Employees Adjust to Change

In the modern workplace, it can seem like the only real constant is change. For many employees, especially those who had no say in the change, this can lead to frustration and drops in productivity. 

Many of these changes are related to the status quo’s move to a remote workplace, and according to a study conducted by freelance hub UpWork, it is estimated that 22% of the global workforce will be remote by the end of 2025. 

Of course, remote work isn’t the only change employees face, and many other things can cause frustrations. Mergers and buyouts result in major changes, but even small factors like a change in payment schedules can affect individuals who like a regular routine. 

Here is a look at 11 ways you can help those employees who aren’t big fans of change adjust to it when needed.

Let Them Be Heard

For business owners and those in executive positions, it’s impractical (or even impossible) to hear the input of an entire employee base relative to a decision that may cause changes. Employee influence prior to a major decision could cause those decision makers to second-guess themselves and is generally a practice that is avoided.

However, feedback after a major decision is considerably easier to collect, and generally based more on what has actually been happening, rather than fears of what may happen when discussing a potential change. Digital surveys are now readily available and easy to create. This article by Forbes can help you get the most out of your survey creation. 

Try to Fix Things

Once the feedback has been collected, make sure employees know their opinions were heard. Make a transparent effort to see if there is a way to help them with the issues caused by a company change. 

Quality feedback leads to increased engagement and productivity, and this KnowledgeCity course takes a deeper look at:

  • Distinguishing the difference between constructive and destructive feedback
  • Using feedback to build trust with your team
  • Reinforcing and encouraging positive responses to feedback

Bad News is Easier to Take When Communication is Strong

Transparency breeds communication, and here are three ways you can help build it:

  • Find a communication mentor: Identify a thought leader in your industry, or a similar one whose leadership you appreciate, and learn from them.
  • Share your values: Effective communication starts with a foundation. Find out what yours is and share it with your team. When it comes time to discuss changes, try to relate the changes to your values.  
  • Share stories: “We’ve all been there” stories make inevitable change more bearable.

Counteract the Feelings Caused by Changes

Change causes employees to feel a lack of control. As a leader in HR, it’s not your job to have all the answers, just to help people find them. One way to help combat the sense of a lack of control is to encourage your team leaders to empower their team members. It takes planning to create situations that foster a personal ownership mindset. Let your team members know that a job description (especially a new one) is just a guideline. 

“It Happens to the Best of Us”

Large-scale changes have the potential to affect every single stakeholder within a company, from CEO to consumer. Many employees believe that a change made without their input that negatively affects them is a change that positively affects everyone else. HR employees can often have the worst of the worst when it comes to corporate change, and letting your team know that you’re “going through it too” can add comfort similar to sharing stories about other times things were rough. 

Establish a Change-Readiness Program

If your team has the capacity to create a digital resource that involves training on how to institute change successfully, as well as a way to communicate with other members experiencing change, you should make the time investment. Here are three major things to focus on when creating a change-readiness program:

  • Be sure it has measurable goals
  • Include change readiness in training long before changes are planned
  • Include ways to analyze the success of the program (in many industries, knowledge tests will do the trick)

Create a New Position

If your HR team has the funding and capacity to do so, having a designated person to help employees deal with stress from corporate changes is an idea worth weighing. Promoting employee happiness benefits everyone, and this is reason enough to consider appointing a dedicated Change Liaison for those most likely to be affected by large-scale changes in your organization.

Enable

Encourage team leaders to set up their members for success in their new roles in any way they can. Many tips on this list play a part in that, but providing a thorough and thought-out list of how they will be affected can help them prepare. Listen to their issues with any changes, and try to find ways to make their work meaningful and rewarding. Ask senior leadership to make a conscious effort to assist in guidance and workforce development in response to change and adjustment periods. 

One Size Does Not Fit All 

Just as you should create training programs that can benefit many different kinds of learners, must cater to different reactions to change as well. Creating support teams for those struggling the most with a change can help them feel like they are not the only ones, ultimately putting them more in the aforementioned mindset of “this is a struggle for us” rather than “this is a struggle for me.”

Celebrate Short-Term Goals

Changes are not singular events. They take time to fully take shape, and often they don’t even fully develop before another change comes along. Be sure to let your team know that you feel the same frustrations when changes don’t seem to be working, and make a focus on celebrating small victories relative to larger changes. 

Time To Make Change Easy

Perhaps easier is a better word. You will always face challenges when implementing staffing shake ups or policy changes, but there are many creative ways to help your team understand that change will be constant, and to give them the tools they need to adjust. 


KnowledgeCity offers many courses to HR teams to help mitigate these changes, and our online course “Managing Change” is a great place to start your collection of tools!

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