5 Ways to Handle “Change Fatigue” in the Workplace
CoAdvantage – Change fatigue has become a pressing concern for employers, nearly half (45%) of whom say their employees are fatigued from all the change they’ve had to endure over the past few years, according to Gartner. Additionally, there are also signs that employees are becoming more resistant to change. Another Gartner study found that the number of employees willing to alter work behavior in support of organizational change fell from 74% in 2016 to 38% in 2022. What can employers do in this situation?
1: Don’t underestimate the impact of small changes
To start, Gartner recommends that employers understand that it’s not just big changes that accrue change fatigue: “Change management must account for the small ripples of change in the organization, not just the Big Bang.” They studied organizational changes according to volume and disruption imposed on teams. They found that “day-to-day changes, such as moving to a new manager or team, are far more damaging.”
2: Build trust in the organization
Interestingly, employees who report high trust have a 2.6x higher capacity for change versus employees with low trust. That trust must be founded on the belief that the organization has their interests in mind, will follow through on promises, and will tell the truth. If employers can thus follow those principles and cultivate more trust in and with their workforce, they will be better equipped to enact and enable change.
3: Build cohesive teams
Similarly, employees who experience strong “team cohesion” show 1.8x greater capacity for change than others. Here, cohesion refers to workers feeling a sense of belonging, connection, and shared purpose. Team-building efforts can thus not only promote greater morale and loyalty among the workforce but also a greater resilience in the face of change.
4: Recalibrate expectations around change
The pace of change in the workplace is unlikely to slow. David Altman, Chief Research and Innovation Officer of the Center for Creative Leadership, says, “What leaders must do is to help employees and managers recalibrate their expectations. This is the world we live in now — change is constant. There’s no ‘getting back to normal.’” In other words, it’s important to re-set expectations regarding change. Change is no longer just a one-off initiative that happens sometimes. Workers who understand ongoing change is just now part of the workplace can adjust the relationship to change and better accommodate it.
5: Provide the support employees need
You can’t expect change not to be exhausting, disruptive, and problematic if employees are forced to make changes they don’t know how to make or don’t have the knowledge or tools to make the change effectively. Employers can help by providing training or workforce wellness programs that help employees learn how to manage stress, while simultaneously building a “psychologically safe” workplace culture that makes employees feel safe to stumble if change is difficult and takes a few tries to get right.
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