Understanding Change Management in the Workplace

Change management is a managerial approach taken by organisations to take charge of transitions in business. HumanX adopts a people-first approach to change management in the workplace. Check out our guide to understand change in your business.

Business Executives, HR Managers
Aug 2023

Understanding Change Management in the Workplace

The importance of change management is more prominent than ever as change has become a staple of doing business. It has actually always been part and parcel of doing business, but it can sometimes feel more prominent in a post-pandemic. 

Put simply, change is a fundamental part of business growth and development, and change of all shapes and sizes requires careful and strategic planning and execution. As businesses worldwide make changes to their organisational structures, they need to implement change management methods to ensure all transitions benefit employees, management teams and the company.

What is Change Management?

Change management is a managerial approach taken by organisations to take charge of transitions, transformations or changes in a business's goals, processes or technologies. Change will look different for every business, with transitions occurring on every level, from organisational restructuring, incorporating new technologies or methods, changing and improving company culture, adapting to market demands, or even going through acquisitions or mergers.

HumanX adopts a people-first approach to change management in the workplace. We believe that the biggest challenge facing change is a human one; without understanding and support from the people that power a business - or the people that leaders are relying on to enact or implement change - it cannot be successful. Change management must prioritise quality communication channels, coaching, a company culture and engaged employees that will get onboard with change and adapt to innovation and new ideas. 

Additionally, the natural evolution of a business (which you could consider the everyday growth and change in the workplace) is managed within the HR function, for example, role design, talent acquisition, hiring and onboarding. Not to mention, understanding shaping culture and the working environment, managing satisfaction, as well as conducting feedback sessions, devising new workplace initiatives and so much more. You can even consider these the later stages of change management strategies. 

Change management in the workplace is a structured approach or strategy for how to bring about a goal or action. It requires detailed planning and forethought before making changes to the workplace landscape. With careful change management in the workplace, employees and management alike will be able to adapt to changes and embrace and thrive within the new structure.

Examples of Change Management in the Workplace

Change management in practice will look different for every organisation and can be implemented in countless scenarios. While we will touch on some examples of HR change management in the workplace, these examples are not exhaustive.

Change management may be utilised when a business undergoes a significant structural change, such as a merger or an acquisition. While the business or businesses adjust to the new structure, HR change management methods can help to manage this transition period seamlessly. With effective change management practices, businesses can ensure staff are comfortable and productive and that company cultures and processes are successfully aligned. 

Another example of HR change management that can be underestimated is implementing new technology within a business. The modern workforce is constantly undergoing digital transformation as more systems and tools become available. While implementing new technologies can interrupt workflows, if rolled out ineffectively, the correct business change management methods can ensure new technologies do not hinder a business's processes. 

Other examples where business change management may be needed include operational modifications such as rolling out a new business model, shifting to remote work or changing the workplace hierarchy. The role of HR change management in all of the above examples is critical for helping employees and management adapt to change successfully.

Why is change management important?

We’ve basically already outlined why change management is so important - If there is one thing that is guaranteed across businesses of all shapes and sizes, it’s the concept of change. Every organisation must evolve to survive and thrive in any chosen industry. 

A company’s approach to change - or evolution or development or growth - really can determine the outcome. Failing to adapt, can see a company decline in competitive markets, fall behind on technology, lack compliance or fail to meet regulations or changing consumer or customer demands. Companies risk jeopardising meeting their business objectives without implementing structured change management methods to any transition. 

Change management is so important because its impact is felt throughout an entire organisation, affecting individuals, teams, businesses and reputations. Nobody likes to feel lost within their role, not clearly understanding how they are contributing to the bigger picture. A considered, human-first approach to change management in the workplace will revolve around fast, successful adoption of any initiative being introduced. HumanX are workplace experience experts, as well as HR consultants. Our role is to support a company as a strategic business partner, helping you to consider the importance of change management, all the options available to you and mitigate the risk that comes with change. Our experience means we have tried-and-true strategies, as well as a unique understanding of evolving a working environment. 

Got a big project? Speak to a member of our team today. 

Understanding the risk of ineffective change management 

A business goal, without a plan or strategy, is just a dream. It is unrealistic. Ultimately, the risk of neglecting your approach to change management is that business targets or desired outcomes cannot be achieved. This comes with a greater risk if a business has already invested heavily in the new initiative or project that requires a change management plan. For example, new technologies being underutilised or not adopted by the rest of the company can be a waste of capital. It could be even worse for organisations who need to make a change to remain competitive in their market - perhaps to their business model or even to meet regulatory requirements that could incur sanctions if not met. Not to mention the cost of an acquisition that causes dissatisfaction and fractures in the company.  

Failing to consider change management can alienate your talent from your business. This is something we see as HR experts often. When change management in the workplace is not managed effectively, or no strategy is put in place at all, employees can feel fear, frustration or just left behind by the business they spend their time at. A HR-approach to change management in the workplace helps to protect workplace relations and invigorate employee engagement to ensure this does not happen. 

Failing to take change management into account can leave staff unproductive and disengaged, ultimately, taking your business through a big change and neglecting your people can lead to high staff turnover, skills gaps, a toxic culture, underperforming and perhaps even underprepared managers as well as low morale. This can have a negative impact on reputation and result in issues with recruitment in the future. 

Change management must be overseen by experts. HumanX’s approach to change management in the workplace allows us to marry the business goals with the people within the organisation, digesting business data, coordinating at the c-suite level and devising the change management strategy to bring about long-term success. 

Change Management Steps 

Incorporating change management methodologies when undergoing a business transition involves several critical steps that the team at HumanX are very familiar with. These steps can help a business roll out new technologies, structures or processes successfully. Below are the steps needed to help manage the people side of business transitions.

Step 1: Preparing for change

This first step is essential before implementing any significant changes within any organisation. Before making transitions, it's vital to understand and articulate the need for change. Taking the time to define this "why" in a way that can be easily understood across the entire organisation is essential for a streamlined rollout. Defining your company's vision can ignite organisation-wide inspiration and alignment. 

  • Some questions you can ask yourself at this stage may include:
  • What are the pain points driving this change?
  • What are the benefits of implementing the change?
  • How will this affect employees and management alike?
  • What potential problems could come to light when making these changes?

Once these questions have been answered, you can more easily communicate the reasons for change to everybody involved. This helps eliminate any confusion, frustration and anxiety employees could feel when not understanding the "why" behind new processes, technologies or hierarchical changes.

Step 2: Articulate the plan and strategy 

The next step in implementing a successful transition involves developing a detailed plan. This may include highlighting strategic goals, clearly outlining KPIs and success metrics, identifying key stakeholders or team members, developing communication strategy and outlining the project's scope. Your plan should remain flexible and be able to be adjusted if unforeseen circumstances arise. During this stage, consider hiring a professional HR team, such as HumanX, to help manage the people's side of the transition. Hiring an experienced HR team is a good idea for helping unite the workforce during change. This outsourcing also allows more time for stakeholders to put their energy where needed — implementing the change within the company.

Step 3: Initiate and manage change 

The initiation stage will require a unique set of steps depending on the change your business is about to undertake. We recommend starting small; for example, if your business implements new technology, consider rolling out this change only within one department. If any potential issues arise, you can deal with them before making changes across the entire organisation. If your company hires a new management team member, consider having them come in for a half-day to meet with new employees and allow both sides to adjust to the change. 

It is also essential to ensure adequate training and support are available to all involved. This training may include resources such as FAQs, company-wide emails or information sessions. A HR company like HumanX can help simplify this change period. Engaging an outsourced HR company also helps to show your commitment to your employees and their well-being.

Step 4: Embed the change in your organisation's culture 

Once underway, it is important to continue encouraging the change so the company doesn't revert to old ways. This may include implementing control measures to stick to changes or changing employee reward systems. Change takes time, so business change management will involve ongoing reinforcement until the change becomes a go-to part of the business's daily operations. Implementing regular training sessions with a HR company is another idea to help ensure progress is not lost. 

Step 5: Review and improve

Changes made to a business will be forever evolving, so the last step of continually reviewing and improving is critical for business development and growth. Once your business has transitioned, it's essential to review the outcomes and ensure the company meets the success criteria. If the change didn't achieve its intended results, consider what else can be done to improve them. Or reconsider the change if it fails to serve the business's needs and vision.

If you choose to work with a outsourced HR company, they can organise regular meetings to collect feedback from employees and stakeholders, then use this insight to guide future decisions, noting areas where improvement may be beneficial.

Some ways you can measure change include:

  • Employee surveys — Conducting employee surveys can help businesses understand how well employees are adapting to change. 
  • Performance metrics — Performance metrics can show the bottom line difference the change is making to a business. This may include before and after comparisons and KPIs. 
  • Turnover rates — Keeping an eye on employee turnover and retention rates is particularly important during periods of change. An increase in turnover may indicate employee dissatisfaction during a transition. 
  • Adoption rates — If the change involves new technology or software, tracking and usage rates can indicate whether it meets the needs of employees or if further training is required.
  • Stakeholder feedback — Holding regular meetings with stakeholders is a good idea to track the success of a new initiative.

How to measure the impact of change

While implementing change is all well and good, measuring the impact of change is necessary to determine whether or not the decisions made benefit the company. Luckily, several tools can help measure the success of change, assisting you as you evaluate the success of the change and introduce adjustments to move things in the right direction. 

When correctly implemented, the importance of change management cannot be overstated, providing your organisation with a significant competitive advantage. A key risk in change management is neglecting to adequately design and implement a framework that helps employees, management and the company evolve and thrive through change. If you are looking to make exciting new changes to the structure of your business via acquisition, new technology rollout, new management hire or other business transitions, implementing change management should be on your radar.

If you’re seeking assistance in effective change management, HumanX is the perfect people-centric partner — helping you to emphasise the critical role of your employees within our structure of successful change management. By pairing up with HumanX for HR change management, your organisation can better navigate the challenges and opportunities new transitions bring to your organisation. So, get in touch today and let’s prepare for a future of positive transformation.

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