by Victoria Huhn
Changes in the workplace—whether caused by budget constraints, layoffs, or new technology and processes—can cause great anxiety to employees. However, there are steps managers can take to help their employees overcome their fear of change and embrace new ideas and processes, improving productivity and morale.
Carefully Plan Ahead
Plan out the details of a change before having any discussions with the affected groups. Anticipate questions that may be asked and create a detailed explanatory document to distribute to the workforce. Explain to them specifically how to implement the new processes or job duties and they will be better prepared to take on these new challenges. By being upfront and informative about the upcoming changes, you can help reduce your employees’ anxiety about the unknown and cut down on any rumors that may spread.
People want information and they should have the opportunity to ask questions. Having regular meetings— both in groups and one on one—will allow your employees to share their ideas and find out what a pending change will mean to them personally. This ongoing communication validates their concerns, allays their fears, and can help provide much-needed feedback about the new processes. In this way, problems can be identified early and resolved quickly.
Finally, if a workplace change doesn’t seem to be working, admit the error, provide a workable solution, and follow workplace etiquette rules. Most employees will appreciate your honesty and feel confident knowing that you are handling the issue in a responsible manner.
Change can be scary—especially for long-term employees—but by giving your workers as much information as possible and explaining the reasons behind the changes, you make the process easier for them. It’s important to maintain a positive morale among your staff, otherwise any changes you implement won’t be nearly as effective.