Change is a word that can make some employees furrow their brows and feel uneasy, but it is an inevitable part of any business. New product launches, the launching of new company values, a merger or acquisition, shifts in strategies or a change in leadership. There are so many ways businesses can change, and as an organisation, being dynamic and flexible is the way to remain competitive. But what does that mean for your employees? Are you supporting them through periods of change?
In this blog we’ll look at change management, what it is and how HR leaders can ensure that any changes to the business are implemented as smoothly and successfully as possible.
What is change management?
Change management refers to the process of preparing, supporting and helping individuals and teams transition from a current state to a desired state. Effective change management involves a structured approach that includes planning, communication, training and stakeholder engagement.
At its core, change management is about ensuring that people are ready, willing and able to embrace change. This even includes having those sometimes uncomfortable conversations around addressing fears, concerns, and resistance to change, and providing them with the support they need to make the translation. It’s not just about implementing new systems or processes, but about creating a culture that supports change, innovation and continuous improvement.
Having tools that can help HR leaders have those conversations with their employees is a great way to make sure you’re covering the ground when it comes to issues, concerns or uneasy feelings employees may have. Always-on listening tools like Hive Open Door, allow your people to feedback anonymously. So those things they may not feel comfortable getting off their chest in a 1-2-1, are more likely to be said in this environment.
Why is change management important?
We’ve covered change management, but why is it important? Well, It’s critical for any organisation that wants to stay competitive and agile in today’s fast-paced environment whilst ensuring the wellbeing of their employees.
With change, often comes disruption. If not managed effectively, it can lead to reduced productivity. Effective change management helps to minimise this by ensuring that everyone is on the same page, and that necessary resources and support are in place, making the transition as smooth as possible.
Change can worry employees for several reasons. Fear of the unknown, job security, comfort with familiarity of their day to day role, there are lots of reasons that can have employees resisting change rather than adopting it.
It’s natural for your people to resist change initially. But effective change management helps to reduce resistance by addressing people’s concerns and providing them with the information and training they need to succeed, and involving them in the process. This can help get those onboard who may have had reservations, leading to greater adoption of new ways of working and thinking.
You could go a step further and encourage some members of your organisation to become change champions. Their role is to encourage others to see the value in the change, and in doing so it can help support the organisation’s efforts to create a better place to place.
Improving employee engagement and retention
If not managed correctly, change can be stressful for many, and in the workplace, it can lead to disengagement, low morale and high employee turnover. Not something employers want to hear. In uncertain times of change, employee turnover could increase if people feel unsettled. Making effective change management crucial to keeping your talent.
But the good news is that if you foster an environment of transparency, open communication and trust throughout, you can improve employee engagement and retention. By involving employees in the process, and giving them a sense of ownership and control, they are more likely to feel committed to the organisation and its goals.
Ways in which you can keep lines of open communication include, regular email updates, regular updates with teams, asking managers to relay information to their teams regarding any changes, and providing channels for employees to feedback and ask questions at any given moment. Tools like Hive Messenger and Hive Open Door are great complimentary channels to the traditional 1-2-1’s and suggestion boxes that you could offer your people to involve them in the process.
Enabling continuous improvement
The great thing about change, is that it doesn’t have to be a one time thing, it can be ongoing, phased and designed to adapt along with the working world. Not everyone can get things right the first time around, and it’s the same for organisations. Think about it, the bigger the organisation, the more boxes to tick, the more people to keep informed, and the more people you have to consider in creating a better place to work.
Which is why creating a culture of continuous improvement is a great way to ensure you’re not only creating a better place to work, but you remain a better place to work. At Hive, one of our core values is to always do things “even better” and is applied to every aspect of how we work. This allows us to continuously analyse and improve the ways in which we operate so we can continue supporting a thriving place to work with an exceptional platform and service for our customers.
Encouraging your people to speak up and address any issues or concerns they see with any changes made, so you can look for ways to improve processes, products, and services can lead to greater innovation as an organisation.
Through regular surveys, you can continuously measure how engaged your employees are to see if they’re using their voice to feedback.
Implementing an employee voice platform like Hive with numerous channels for employee feedback and communication, complemented by People Scientists who can help you navigate the feedback and turn it to positive change, is a great way to continuously evolve and improve.
When changes are successfully implemented, you can use recognition channels like Hive Fives, to keep the momentum going, and keep driving positive change.
Key principles of change management
For HR leaders, managing change can be challenging, but to ensure change is managed effectively in your organisation, here are some key principles to keep top of mind when rolling out new initiatives:
Successful change starts with a solid plan. This involves identifying goals, objectives and outcomes of the change, and developing a roadmap for how it will be implemented. It’s important at this stage to include all stakeholders in the planning process, and to identify any potential risks and challenges that may arise throughout, so you can plan ahead to ensure if they occur, you’re not set back.
Clear and frequent communication
Communication is key in pretty much all aspects of life. But it’s critical when it comes to change management. Communicating reasons for change, the benefits of the changes made, how and when the changes will be made, and the impact it will have on both employees and the organisation is essential to increasing adoption and smoothly transitioning towards your goals.
Involve and engage employees
Employees are fundamental in keeping the cogs turning in an organisation. Which makes them invaluable in the process of successful change. It’s important to include them in the change process, and engage them in the decision making process. Not only does this show as an employee you value their opinion and expertise, but it creates a sense of ownership and belonging – all helping toward employees working towards the same goals.
The ADKAR approach to managing change
Another framework to keep in mind when managing change is one referred to as the ADKAR approach.
ADKAR is a change management model that provides a simple and effective framework for understanding and managing individual transitions during times of change. It stands for Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement. Each step represents a critical aspect of change and helps organisations and leaders navigate the change process successfully.
By following this framework, organisations can increase the likelihood of successful change implementation and minimise the negative impacts on stakeholders.
Change is inevitable in any business, but it can also cause uneasiness and disruption among employees if not handled properly. To ensure a smooth transition, it’s important to plan changes in advance and keep employees informed and involved in the process. By doing so, you can increase adoption and minimise resistance. To effectively manage change, it’s crucial to follow the principles of change management and foster an environment of transparency and open communication. This approach helps employees embrace change, supports innovation, and encourages continuous improvement.
Ready to start your change management journey? Read our ebook on 8 Employee Survey Questions to Help You Manage Change before you begin, to improve your chances of a smooth transition.