5 Strategies to Help Your Employees Thrive in a Changing Workplace

5 Strategies to Help Your Employees Thrive in a Changing Workplace

Amy Thomas, AssociatedOct 11, 2017
5 Strategies

The one thing that can always be counted on in the business world is the need for change, and the supply chain industry is no exception.

In fact, in our increasingly technological world, keeping up with increasing customer expectations and remaining competitive requires companies to be more open to change than ever. New technologies must be embraced to remain competitive. Processes need to become more efficient to offset rising business costs. The organization expands to take advantage of new opportunities, or becomes leaner as the company seeks to refine its goals and mission.

All of this may be great for the business, but as the planning and implementation of the new way of life begins to gain steam, you may find that your workforce is less than enthusiastic. None of this sounds like very much fun to them. “What’s wrong with the way things are?” some of them may wonder. Others may understand the necessity for change and welcome it in the abstract, but have concerns about how they will be affected day-to-day.

Much of resistance to change is due to anxiety and feeling a lack of control. Managing the anxiety will result in increased employee buy-in and the changes will fall into place much more smoothly.

Here are five things you can do help your employees feel more comfortable with change:

  1. Communication: Getting the right message out in a timely manner is critical for making sure everyone understands what is actually going on. When details about planned changes are not forthcoming, rumors begin to go around and tensions become heightened as people start imagining the worst. People will want to know what the planned changes are, why the changes are needed, and how they are going to be implemented. A strong, clear message at the right time will minimize rumors and quell anxieties. Communicating frequent updates as the plan progresses ensures that the message remains accurate and that everyone feels like they are being kept in the loop.

  2. See It From Their Perspective: What are their fears and concerns? While your employees undoubtedly care about the welfare of the company, when changes are announced they are very naturally concerned about how it will affect them personally. They may fear that the company is in trouble, or that job cuts may be forthcoming. Or they may be concerned about how changes to their job will affect them as they go about their workday. Having their concerns listened to and addressed reassures your employees that you care about their well-being and will do whatever you can to help them. In addition, keep a positive attitude and shed some focus on the benefits the change will bring, not just for the organization but at the employee level as well.
  3. Training & Preparation: Wherever possible, train and prepare your employees ahead of time for the changes they will experience on the job. Knowing what to expect and being well trained for any new tasks or technology will instill them with confidence and help alleviate the discomfort of feeling “new” to the job, after what may have been a lengthy period of time of feeling comfortable and competent with the old way of doing things.

  4. Give Them Some Ownership: Solicit their ideas for incorporating the changes. The person working the current process has expertise on how it has been working on the practical level, and may provide valuable information on existing problems as well as suggestions for solving them. Incorporate their ideas when possible. Challenge your employees to come up with innovative ideas and solutions to problems they may encounter as the changes progress.

  5. Once the Changes Have Been Implemented, Gather Employee Feedback: How are things working, from their perspective? What problems have they encountered? Are they noticing the promised benefits as the new process or technology comes up to speed? Take note of what you hear and wherever possible, make adjustments to the new process accordingly.

Changes is never easy, but taking the time to communicate with your employees, listen to their concerns and involve them in the process helps to alleviate their anxiety, giving them the confidence to be a facilitator rather than a resistor of change.