Managing morale through change

Adapting to change is essential for business survival. And as much as some try to resist it, most change is inevitable. Therefore, managing change is a key skill for business owners.

Every business will come across change in some form throughout its lifespan. Workplace changes such as new policies and procedures, restructuring, or emerging financial issues are unavoidable, and ultimately, affect staff members, management, and the overall business.

Although many changes can present as opportunities for business growth, not all changes will be received favourably among employees. Major changes to the current workplace environment can have negative effects, particularly on managers who are implementing the changes and affected staff members.

Here are three ways business owners can manage staff morale through major workplace changes:

Communicate effectively
Open and honest communication is critical in managing staff through periods of change. To avoid the rumour mill, address issues with staff as early on as possible and respond to employee concerns promptly. Informing your staff members about the changes taking place or occurring, and how and when they will be implemented or addressed can help to ease employee stress and alleviate uncertainty.

Create a positive environment
Major workplace changes can cause tensions to arise, and subsequently, productivity and output can suffer. A great way to rebuild performance is to encourage widespread acceptance of the change through workplace design and practices. Employers can create a positive environment by implementing team-building activities, celebrating staff achievements, and organising regular briefings to discuss concerns, etc. Emphasising the benefits that the change will have on both the business and staff members will also help to transform negative perceptions from staff members.

Provide extra support
Employees will have different reactions to change – some may feel vulnerable and visualise worst-case scenarios, whereas others may embrace change. It is important for business owners to recognise this and understand the impact change can have on staff health and productivity.

Offering resources to staff, i.e., support groups and counselling services, can help employees cope throughout the change process. Additional resources should be provided for employees with increased workload or responsibilities to avoid employee burnout. Managers should also encourage employee feedback and open discussions between all employees and management.

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