Combatting Change Fatigue
By: Gina Deveney, Beyond
From mergers and acquisitions to the implementation of the latest IT technology, organizational changes can take place at any time. The work needed to adjust to these changes often takes a toll on employees, managers and executives, leading to change fatigue. According to a 2013 survey by the Katzenbach Center, 65 percent of organization members have experienced change fatigue. This can have a direct impact on the success of the organization as productivity is compromised.
Although all changes take effort to succeed, a lack of focus, unclear priorities and an overload of employee responsibilities can quickly lead to change fatigue. This may be one reason why approximately 70 percent of attempted organizational changes fail, according to a Forbes article titled “6 Tips For Building Innovation Into Your Company DNA.” The human resource department should take a few steps to keep workers at all levels feeling positive and energized during the shift.
The first step is to target the most overwhelmed teams or employee groups, normally those that are most affected by the change. Tools such as pulse-check surveys can help professionals identify these groups and implement training, guidance or stress management initiatives to combat organizational fatigue. Creative teams are often hit hard by change fatigue due to their general lack of involvement in the decision-making processes that led to the change.
The organization should also work to implement the change in stages to avoid overwhelming employees and managers. This lets workers adapt to their new responsibilities one small step at a time, allowing them to remain focused on their work during the transition. On the same note, companies should avoid implementing multiple changes at once unless absolutely necessary as numerous changes can lead to unclear priorities.
Information overload is another major contributor of change fatigue as workers quickly become burned out from constant instructions and notifications bombarding their emails, business meetings and break room walls. Organizations should strive to only provide the highest-priority information to workers over a select number of communication channels.
Employees who feel a sense of support at the executive level are less prone to change fatigue, but organizations should also focus on letting employees know their role in the change to help maintain a sense of purpose. This is particularly important for frontline managers who spend their time helping employees through the transition while struggling with change fatigue themselves. Human resources can assign a temporary business partner to these managers to help them focus on core objectives and carry out the organizational change.
Some level of change fatigue is inevitable during any major organizational shift, but companies can minimize the impact by setting realistic expectations for employees and managers. Regular progress checks, focus realignment and stress management initiatives from the human resources department can also help to combat organizational fatigue.