‘Change is the only constant’, said a wise man once. We know this is true but it is easier said than done, especially when there is a need to implement change at the workplace.
That is partially also the reason why many organizations are happy to enforce organizational change in the only two ways that they know how. One is by introducing a new policy and forcing employees to adapt to it. The second is by re-enforcing an outdated policy because everyone is comfortable with it. ‘Resistance’ is a word that all HR personnel dread to hear. There is also a baseless fear that when one employee resists change openly, that the rest will also follow.
How do you implement change?
An organization that places importance on the well-being of employees and involves them in the process of change implementation, will be able a better place to work. Here are four ways in which organizations can implement change in a smoother way:
Employees resist any change to a comfortable workflow when they aren’t sure about why the change is being implemented. Informing employees out of the blue that they have to follow a new HR policy will backfire. On the other hand, explaining the reasons for introducing the policy and allowing them to share their concerns and questions, helps to minimise resistance to change.
When employees (at the managerial level) are involved in the implementation process, they do a better job of rolling out new policies effectively. It’s important to ensure that managers at the execution level are given a fair hearing and that their opinions are valued. It’s possible that the top management may even get to hear some valuable inputs from them.
Unless the changes bring about clear-cut and quantifiable benefits, there’s no point in implementing that change. When employees are made aware of the benefits they stand to reap individually or as a team, change implementation becomes much easier. If the benefits address an ongoing grievance, that should be highlighted too.
Effecting real change to office culture takes time. The best way to ensure that it is easily adopted by the employees is by giving a lenient window period for its enforcement. It is important to empower employees and to help them understand that change benefits the team as a whole.
What are the methods for implementing change for success?
Successful implementation of organizational change is not the effort of a single person. It requires the combined efforts of the entire team. Here are a few proven methods for implementing change in a company:
Get Management On Board
If the CEO of an organization thinks that change will come into effect on the basis of an email from his side, that will never happen. In order to implement change in culture at all levels, it is important to get the management on board completely. Convincing them about the benefits of the changes is crucial. It is also important to hear their viewpoints before making any communication official.
Cite Reasons For The Change
Nobody likes change unless they are convinced that it is for the better good. It would be better if any culture changes are implemented only after data based on surveys, feedback or questionnaires is analysed first. Highlighting the reasons for making the change becomes easier with proper data in hand.
Whenever culture changes are implemented, there will always be a section of employees who are impacted the most. Irrespective of whether the organization is planning to tighten its belt, ask a specific department to work from home or looking to implement other changes, it is crucial to address employees one on one. Resistance to change comes when employees are not convinced about a new policy that management insists is for their benefit.
Proper Communication Channels
Depending upon the seriousness of the new policy change or culture improvement, the mode of communication should vary. For general organizational improvements, an email or a newsletter will suffice. For department specific changes, a meeting with the team in person or via a virtual meeting is suggested. For change implementations made on a higher level, it is important to meet with department heads and team leaders first. Never convey a decision that is likely to impact every employee in a serious manner through an email as that may be viewed as a cold approach.
Plan a Timeframe
The changes that an organization decides to implement could vary from a new HR policy to changing the systems at work or even introducing a new line of business. Once employees have been intimated about the change that are due, it is important to plan a time period for the implementation to be put in effect. During this period, feedback and checks need to be carried out to ensure that the intended changes are being rolled out smoothly.
Proper follow-ups are needed to ensure that the intended changes are implemented effectively. It is possible that there may be further tweaks and additions needed depending upon how the employees adapt to the change. It is also important to have unbiased managers who can communicate well with employees. They should also be able to resolve concerns or issues if any crop up.
Example Of Implementing Change At The Workplace
Case One- An organization has decided to ask its in-house marketing and PR departments to switch to a WFH schedule. A few of the employees have mentioned that they would prefer to still report to the office a few times a week. The organization wants to implement the WFH schedule asap for these two departments.
Methods To Implement The Change Effectively:
- Managers at the top level need to sit down for a meeting with the HR personnel and the respective department heads.
- The new WFH policy needs to be discussed in detail and feedback from the department heads sought.
- Any grievances, feedback or complaints need to be raised and discussed.
- Employees who have already mentioned their discomfort at working from home should be given special attention. Meeting with HR one on one and discussing their concerns is important. HR should be given the go ahead to help the employees become comfortable in a new working environment. For eg, if an employee is worried about finding time to cook meals for the family and meet deadlines, HR can assist in recommending home bakers who can deliver meals to the family on a daily basis.
- The department heads and HR should sit together to decide the number of working hours every expected from every employee and other benefits such as sick leave, no-work weekends etc.
- Department heads should be given a timeframe to discuss the new WFH policy with their respective teams.
- Outlining a tentative work schedule for the team will give them a better idea about what a day of working from home will look like.
- A formal communication to the two departments should be sent by the top-level management once other formalities are discussed.
- Instead of implementing WFH on an immediate basis, the two teams should be encouraged to come to work on alternate days to ease them into the process of change.
- HR can also reward employees with online redeemable vouchers, perks and bonus benefits.