With more employees working from home than ever before, it’s critical to have an effective change management strategy in place to avoid business disruption.
Big changes in the workplace are never easy, especially when they happen at such short notice and with such a challenging backdrop.
Due to recent events, thousands of businesses have had to make drastic changes to how their people operate. With some sent to work from home, some working reduced hours and some who are furloughed. But with such a large scale of changes and remote working, it can be difficult to continue operations with minimal disruption.
Many employees won’t be used to this style of working, and if the process isn’t managed carefully, it could adversely affect your business.
To help your business get through this challenging time, we’ve gathered some useful advice on how to execute an effective change management strategy that keeps your employees – and your business – on the right track.
What is change management – and why is it important?
In theory, change management is simple; it’s just the process of building a vision and seeing it through to successful implementation.
But in reality, it’s much more complex. A lot of the changes have been reactive to the current climate, rather than strategic, therefore a change management plan may not have been formally in place.
Whatever the reason for change, your change management strategy rests on every person in your business being engaged and aligned, whether prior to change or retrospectively. And despite this, 33% of managers completely ignore employees when devising change initiatives.
Change in the daily working routine can have significant psychological effects on your employees – whether it’s stress, disengagement, or even loneliness. And these effects can ultimately lead to staff turnover, absence, or a drop in performance.
But don’t worry – it can all be avoided with an effective strategy. With just a few small considerations in place, you can help your business operate at its best.
We call this our working life hack to improving employee engagement, and here it is:
1. Maintain effective communication
If you take just one piece of advice away from this blog post, it should be this one – communication is critical during periods of change. It’s the key to securing acceptance and engagement from your employees.
Every employee in your team is different, and they will all react differently to working from home. Whether it’s through staff surveys, online workshops, or by nominating champions within the business, you should listen to your employees to figure out how you can make their working lives easier through this period. Thomas has recently launched a “Remote Working Report”.
Using our behavioural assessment, the Personal Profile Analysis (PPA) assessment, you can run a report on how an employee may react to working from home and how best to manage them remotely based on their behaviours.
2. Stay transparent
With health-related news changing day by day, it’s essential you stay transparent and keep your employees up to date with your change management strategy.
At the start of the process, set clear expectations around what’s expected of your employees, and make sure they understand why the change is happening. If this step is done effectively, they’re more likely to be accepting of the change and stay engaged with their work.
3. Maintain morale
When your employees aren’t working in the same space, it can be easy to forget the importance of team morale. But 49% of remote workers note that their biggest struggle is wellness-related, according to the 2019 State of Remote Work report.
Maintaining levels of engagement, commitment and motivation is critical at a time when your employees will naturally feel more isolated. It can be as simple as hosting regular team catch-ups or offering additional incentives for noteworthy work – just make sure you’re looking out for everyone in your company.
Review, react and refresh
Nobody can be certain of what lies ahead – but that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare.
Your change management strategy should be continually reviewed as time goes on to make sure you’re consistently meeting the needs of your workforce. That means reacting to any issues that arise, and frequently checking in with employees to understand their changing needs.