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Minimising the risk of employee change fatigue

We all know that real change can ultimately only happen when employees adopt new processes, practices, systems, models.

There is also a lively debate playing out, discussing whether the pandemic is a time to hang on to as much of your core as possible, bunker down and hope to ride it out, or whether now is the perfect time to drive ambitious transformational programmes. For those who want to dance in the rain, with so much disruption in play an “all bets are off” mentality can take hold and suddenly a slew of initiatives are being spun up.

Truth be told, I’m with the dancers on this one, but it’s vital we all remember that people (your employees) have endured months of rapid and constant environmental and organisational change. They’re dealing with concerns about the economy, their job security, isolation, exhaustion, their health and the health of their loved ones.

Add in an unhealthy dose of cabin fever and understandably then, employees’ risk of change fatigue is higher than ever. To combat this, your change management programme has to focus on your employee experience, and you need to be sure to appropriately manage day-to-day changes.

Tips to combat employee change fatigue:

Of the many tips offered to help combat change fatigue among employees, for me these three are the most important and most effective.

  1. Up front, make sure that your change initiatives have very clear and defined outcomes which you can describe easily. More than that, start your initiative by talking about the objectives and outcomes, not about what you’re going to go through to get there.
  2. Place a premium on people’s time. Plan your change programme in the light of the capacity of the key people involved and affected. Don’t develop a timeline for the programme and then start assessing what needs to give to achieve it. Be sensible and appropriate upfront, make sure your people have the time to drive and adopt the change.
  3. You need to lead by example. If you don’t then employees will feel they are constantly told they need to adopt change, only for the leadership team to keep on doing what they always do, and for managers to maintain the same old routines. Despite an initial surge of enthusiasm, nothing ever changes.

The risk, and irony, then is that change fatigue can set in, despite “the way we do things around here” remaining very much the same.

To learn more about change management, join our training programme “How to deliver successful projects“. The whole course is invaluable and module 3 focusses on “How to Deliver True Organisational Change“.