Attracting and retaining talented employees has been a challenge in almost every industry for the last several years. Compensation, culture, and flexibility have been the hottest topics in the world of hiring, for good reason.
However, the way you manage significant changes within your teams, policies, and processes can make or break your organization’s ability to retain and attract employees in the same way that compensation, culture, and flexibility can.
Here are a few things to consider when managing through changes and transitions in your organization.
Change management consists of any systematic process that involves the definition or adoption of new corporate strategies, structures, procedures, or technologies. Excellent change management strategies recognize the unique issues that each employee will face in the process of the organization’s evolution.
Obviously, change is inevitable. In order for a business to grow, it needs to continue to tweak its systems and processes in order to align with its audience, partners, or customers.
Many organizations, however, tend to move “full speed ahead” with changes without regarding the effect those changes may have on their people. Even employees that have historically felt supported can become quickly disenchanted by new management and updated processes.
Often, adverse reactions to organizational changes are less about the changes themselves, and more about the ways that those changes are communicated and executed.
For the last 50 years, most studies show a 60% to 70% failure rate for organizational change management efforts. According to Ryerson University, the most common reasons change initiatives fail are:
Most humans are creatures of habit. They find comfort in finding systems and habits that serve their own personal working style, and they stick to them.
Any organizationally enacted changes can upset that feeling of comfort and trigger the “fight or flight” response in their brain. They can either push back hard against changes, or disengage from their work as a means of self-preservation.
The easiest way to prevent employees from entering this “fight-or-flight” stage of change management is to communicate openly, clearly, and effectively.
In terms of communication breakdowns, leaders tend to be the most guilty. In a study published by Forbes magazine, over 30,000 employees were asked a series of questions—among them was whether their organization openly shared challenges with them. The results showed that only 35 percent of leaders are “always or frequently sharing challenges,” which means that approximately two-thirds of those leaders are contributing to the breakdown in communication that occurs during changes in their organization.
These communication breakdowns can cause even more havoc within your organization. If employees aren’t communicated with properly, it increases your risk of turnover during these crucial (but volatile) moments for your business.
This turnover can create more unwanted changes within your organization, that has the potential to create a domino effect of failed change management instances that can really damage the culture and reputation of your company.
For a change initiative to succeed, employees must accept the changes willingly and consistently. While it may take time to get employees fully on board, leaders can break the ice by addressing employees’ concerns by building trust, which is established through credibility.
You develop credibility by doing what you say you will do, finding out what employees want, and being transparent in communications with employees and stakeholders. Transparency is important because it lets you properly inform employees of the change, including why it’s needed, and helps prevent breakdowns in communication.
The issue of training can be resolved by ensuring employees have all the tools they need to get through the change. Note that this change does not have to be from a project-management standpoint. It may also pertain to the employee’s own growth and development within the organization.
Multiple studies show that employees actually want more training, and many employees feel as though they aren’t reaching their potential at work. Leaders can reduce the risk of employees leaving for greener pastures—or becoming unproductive due to lack of confidence in their role—by involving them in the change initiative, asking for their feedback, providing them with educational resources, and coaching and mentoring them. Leaders, as well, should obtain training so they are better qualified to implement and support change initiatives.
Lastly, to ensure an effort is worth undertaking, leaders should perform a cost-benefit analysis, which involves identifying potential costs and anticipated benefits. Costs may include resources needed (including people) and training time for each person involved. There should be clear advantages to the change along with a list of potential obstacles and a plan for contending with those hurdles.
By establishing thoughtful change management processes, organizations can help their employees feel valued and supported. Creating a supportive culture reduces turnover, increases retention, and helps your business become the employer-of-choice for the top talent in your industry.
The HR experts at Axios HR can help your business develop a change management plan that works for your organization and your employees. If you’re interested in talking to one of these experts about any of your HR needs, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.