The year 2020 has taught businesses many lessons. The sudden onset of the COVID-19 pandemic followed by drastic changes to the economy have forced companies to alter the size of their workforces, restructure work environments and revise sales models — just to name a few challenges. And what this has all meant for employees is change.
Even before this year’s public health crisis, many businesses were looking into and setting forth policies regarding change management. In short, this is a formalized approach to providing employees the information, training and ongoing coaching needed to successfully adapt to any modification to their day-to-day jobs.
There’s little doubt that one of the enduring lessons of 2020 is that businesses must be able to shepherd employees through difficult transitions, even (or especially) when the company itself did not bring about the change in question.
Why change is hard
Most employees resist change for many reasons. There is often a perceived loss of, or threat to, job security or status. Inconvenience and unfamiliarity provoke apprehension. In some cases, perhaps because of misinformation, employees may distrust their employers’ motives for a change. And some workers will always simply believe the “old way is better.”
What is worse, some changes might make employees’ jobs more difficult. For example, moving to a new location might enhance an organization’s image or provide safer or more productive facilities. But doing so also may increase some employees’ commuting times or put employees in a drastically different working environment. When their daily lives are affected in such ways, employees tend to question the decision and experience high levels of anxiety.
What you should not do
Often, when employees resist change, a company’s decision-makers cannot understand how ideas they have spent weeks, months or years deliberating could be so quickly rejected. (Of course, in the case of the COVID-19 pandemic, tough choices had to be made in a matter of days.) Some leadership teams forget that employees have not had time to adjust to a new idea. Instead of working to ease employee fears, executives or supervisors may double down on the change, more strictly enforcing new rules and showing little patience for disagreements or concerns.
And it is here the implementation effort can break down and start costing the business real dollars and cents. Employees may resist change in many destructive ways, from taking very slow learning curves to calling in sick to filing formal complaints or lawsuits. Some might even quit.
The bottom line: by not engaging in some form of change management, you are more likely to experience reduced productivity, bad morale, and increased turnover.
How to cope
Identify ways you have been able to help employees deal with this year’s changes and document them so they can be of use to your company in the future. Contact Cordia’s experts for real-world strategies to help you navigate the challenges facing your business today and tomorrow. Cordia helps businesses achieve financial stability, save time and money, and limit risk through transaction processing, financial reporting, forecasting, technology recommendations, strategic CFO services, and other advisory services.