Managing change and maintaining morale

What can HR do to make sure organizational change doesn't destroy your employee engagement and morale?

Managing change and maintaining morale

Whether it's mass layoffs, organizational restructuring, or simply a move to a new office building, any sort of change affecting many employees can damage morale, engagement and discretionary effort.

So how can you make sure you're managing people's expectations, while still meeting the company's needs?

Lee Hecht Harrison managing director Bruce Anderson said employers needed to make staff aware of the reasons for the change, when it will be undertaken and what it means for each employee. Uncertainty allows employees to create their own worst-case scenarios, which are often scarier than reality.

Information must be readily available for all employees and updated regularly. He also suggested organizational leaders be visible leading up to and during the change.

Restructuring could be an opportunity to “ consider how employee’s skills can fit into their sales and service network to help transition employees into other areas of the business,” he told HRM, adding that onboarding programs could help employees move into new roles more easily.”

Employers can also lose good employees to competitors if these high potential workers see the organization as unstable or unpredictable.

When undergoing change management, HR must have a clear communication strategy as part of the plan. Anderson highlighted the elements of a clear change management plan as including:

  • Timeframe. The pace of change can have an impact on its success. Move too fast and you risk creating confusion; move too slow and you lose momentum.
  • Objectives. Both long term and short term should be considered.
  • Impact analysis. Consider how changes will affect employees, culture and workflow.
  • Identify potential obstacles. This might be stakeholder resistant to change, or budgetary or regulatory. Have a plan for how these will be managed.
  • Project governance/accountability. How will the change program be measured and kept on track? Appointing a party or committee dedicated to keeping track of the program will assist in the program being successful.
  • A communication strategy. Keep employees notified and engaged throughout the process.
  • Support and training. What services will be offered to employees to help them deal with the change?  



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