Workplace Change: Constant and Disruptive

If there’s one thing employers and their workers can count on is that….they can’t count on much. What was there yesterday is gone today. Co-workers, clients/customers, technology: they all change.

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Change always has been with us, of course, but the rate of change today is unheard of (some are calling it “exponential”) and when it happens in the workplace it’s extremely stressful, resulting in fatigue, depression, illness, low morale, and….decreased productivity.

How often does change occur in the workplace? Gartner, a business research company, said in 2018 that the pace of change in business has accelerated considerably over the past 10 years, with the average organization undergoing five major changes in as few as just three years.

Helping Workers Deal with Change

The first – and critical step – to helping your employees cope with workplace change is to let them know that changes are coming. This sounds like a no-brainer first step, of course, but not all businesses tell workers of impending change, or they don’t give them time to process the fact.

Additional steps:

  • Before making the change, acknowledge the old way of doing things. “Formally” make note of the work done the old way, celebrate successes and help your team members feel appreciated for their previous work. Celebrating helps workers feel encouraged about taking on the change.
  • Be sure to explain the why behind the change and make it clear why the change will be happening now and not later.
  • Let employees know the outcomes you expect with the change.
  • Be sure your management teams understand how the change will be implemented, when, the tasks necessary to make the change, its timeline, and any challenges you anticipate.

There Will be Push Back

Your employees will complain. They will balk. They will be stressed.

It’s not true that people don’t like change, it’s that we don’t like change that we think isn’t to our benefit! To counter this, you need to understand the change from your employees’ perspective.

What could people be fearful of? They could be worried about loss of status or job security, fear of the unknown, fear of failure, politics within your company, etc.

Bottom line: you will need to carefully and over time (a few weeks) help your employees understand how the change will actually benefit them, both as a company and – especially – as individuals.

For example, if the scuttlebutt you hear is that members of your team are worried they may lose their jobs, emphasize that they’ll be learning new skills.

Keep Communication Open

Let your employees know they can go to managers and executives with questions and concerns. Reward the behaviors you want instead of punishing those you don’t. Make sure managers have the training and resources to help their team members make the transition.

Finally, provide coping strategies to employees: encourage them to exercise, eat well, get enough sleep. Make it a part of your company culture to take regular breaks that include stretching, walking around the block or even within building, maybe even meditating. (Could you provide quite places for this?)

Workplace Change: a Force for Good?

Done well – and that entails creating a plan well in advance of any large organizational alterations – change in your workplace can empower your employees as it (re)engages them with the work you do/services you provide. It can, basically: reenergize your workplace!

Do you need some help – whether temporary or long-term – during a time of workplace change at your company? Helpmates can provide you hard-working temporary personnel for a day, a week or months. Contact the branch nearest you for more information.

Help Your Team Members Stay Excited About Work

As a supervisor, a big part of your job is to ensure that your team members stay excited about work….but without working so hard and so fast that they become burnt out:

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  • Your newly hired college grad is so excited about her first job in a career she loves that she’s willing to work 10 or 12 hours a day and on weekends because “it’s not work; it’s fun!” .
  • Your department has just been tasked with an exciting new initiative, one that will be a game changer for your company; perhaps even for humankind. Everyone – absolutely everyone – on your team is extremely excited and also happy to work through lunch, work until 8 p.m., volunteer to work on weekends, and so on.

And then it happens: in a few weeks or (more likely) a few months of nonstop high engagement and toil, you notice your team members:

  • No longer are excited.
  • Don’t automatically volunteer to stay late or work weekends and if “volunteered” by you, they look dejected and let you know quickly that they’ve already made plans.
  • Start becoming sick more often. Possibly a lot more often.
  • Stop meeting deadlines.
  • Are becoming cranky and snappish.

This, of course, is natural: the human body can only take so much adrenalin and employees always pumped, always “on,” always moving at time and a half and you can rest assured that that adrenalin is pumping. A lot! Workers they will become sick and possibly seriously so. At the very least they will have more colds/fevers, head and back aches, become “testy,” experience insomnia, and a host of other ailments, all that indicate burnout.

Ensuring employees stay excited…enough.

Remember when an employee, when asked to work over the weekend, mentioned she had plans and couldn’t come in? How it surprised you, because she’d happily worked after hours/weekends for several months. Taking that time off is what she should have been doing all along and it was your job as her supervisor to make sure she did so, whether she wanted to at the time or not.

Making sure workers work no more than 40 or 45 hours a week helps ensure that they do their best work possible: they are rested, recharged. They have a much better chance of staying healthy. They will remain excited and interested in coming to work. They will, in short, be more productive by taking time off regularly.

So when your eager beavers tell you they want to stay late and work weekends, tell them no. It’s not possible. You won’t allow it. You’ll end up doing both of you a favor!

If one of the reasons you would like your team members to work longer hours is because of a major project or you’re short staffed, call upon Helpmates to fill the gap in the workload to help your team get it all done. You’ll be a hero and will demonstrate to your team that you’re serious about their well-being. We look forward to hearing from you.

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