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How can we stop employees becoming disengaged with constant change?

by Ben Hawkins on 23 Jul 2018
business_transformation

Engagement is often the overlooked pillar of successful business transformation. But why does it matter? The clear answer is that people are the ones that make change happen, and if they’re not engaged, the change programme simply won’t deliver.

The trouble is, change is a constant in today’s business environment. Unless people understand the need for organisations to consistently look for ways to improve, they can become tired of always having to flex and adapt.

BIE’s annual transformation survey revealed that this is already a challenge for many organisations. 47% of senior executives who responded to the survey said that their company’s employees were becoming disengaged with change.

The response in our transformation survey highlights the importance of creating a company culture that accepts that the business needs to continually evolve. It is a considerable behavioural shift for employees to appreciate that the company they are working for is always looking for new ways to improve. Otherwise, leading future business transformation programmes become a relentless and thankless task.

So how can we shift our organisational culture so that everyone in the business both understands and appreciates the need to continually evolve?

Communication, communication, communication

There’s always an element here around communication. Change should be about exploring what could be possible. It could be about challenging values and becoming a different and better place to work.

However, for many people, the natural reaction to change is fear. People get nervous that change might mean they’re out of a job. Especially as too often, change is seen as simply a cost-cutting exercise.

But if the communication is consistent, compelling, and entices people towards the exciting new future, they might be more open and willing.

Building momentum with quick wins

It’s not surprising that people don’t like it when so much change comes in and it just doesn’t work. It’s pointless. The natural response to a proposal of further change becomes: ‘Why would we do this? We’ve tried it before and it’s failed.’

The best way to engage people with change is with quick wins. People need to see the benefits, to see that the business is becoming a better place, and that lives are being made easier because of the changes.

And they need to see all this quickly. The more laborious, time-consuming and painful it is to embed change, the more people switch off, resent it, and fear it in the future.

A change of mindset

Organisations need to create a culture where everyone in the business appreciates that companies need to continually change in order to survive and thrive. That if your company stands still, you’ll end up dying off as a business.

There are so many competitors coming into the marketplace, and technology is becoming such a massive part of our lives, that we can’t help but keep moving forward. It's evident that we need to encourage everyone to challenge themselves and to think differently. It’s about asking the questions: ‘What can we be doing differently that will both make our customers lives better, and differentiate us from the competition?'

But this behavioural shift doesn’t just happen. It relies on changing the mindsets of everyone in the business to actually want to succeed, and to challenge themselves to be better.

 

In our Business Transformation Survey 2018 we looked at how buying has matured, how transformation teams are structured today, who the major sponsors and organisers are, and how businesses are engaging their employees in transformation. To download your copy of the report, click the link below.

business transformation survey 2018

Ben Hawkins

Written by Ben Hawkins

Ben has over ten years of recruitment experience across Business Transformation programmes. He is a specialist interim management provider with a passion for change management and has worked with many companies from FTSE 100 to SMEs.