change_managementChange management has become increasingly important in companies of all sizes, across all industries. As the business world continually evolves, companies that don’t quickly and efficiently adapt to change risk becoming obsolete. Businesses must learn to inspire, implement and manage change in effective ways to achieve lasting benefits.

The Work Opportunities Unlimited team understands the benefits of change in the workplace, as well as the possible challenges associated with it. We support companies as they introduce and facilitate change in their organizations. As part of our efforts, our team members work with employers to help them communicate the rationale behind the changes, the associated new processes and procedures, and the resulting benefits. Additionally, we can help the individuals we support on the job overcome the obstacles and challenges associated with change, helping them adapt and evolve accordingly.

“Change can be very difficult for some people, as some employees seek routine and stability. Employers may wonder how to balance certain employees’ needs for routine with the need to evolve and innovate to stay competitive in the marketplace,” said Elena Gendron, Director of Work Opportunities Unlimited’s Boston team. “Employers should recognize that there are different degrees of change and that employees’ reactions to it may vary drastically. A change that one person believes is insignificant may impact another employee’s sense of order or uncomfortably alter their feeling of routine.”

Resistance to change is a common stumbling block. Therefore, Work Opportunities Unlimited team members work with employers and clients to understand the reasons for resistance and successfully overcome these obstacles.

Some employees are resistant to change because:

  • Employees develop a “psychological contract” with their employer that creates certainty for them. The employee expects the employer to provide predictable systems, policies, procedures, and co-workers. Any change in the “contract” creates uncertainty.
  • A negative reaction is usually related to a loss of control–over their own influence, surroundings, or source of pride.
  • “Patterns” and “routines” bring comfort to some individuals.

Regardless of how significant (or insignificant) the change may be, Work Opportunities Unlimited helps employers facilitate change and supports individuals on the job to become more comfortable with the new policies and procedures. As part of our efforts, we effectively communicate each change – and explain the reasoning behind it – to our customers, empowering them to understand, accept and embrace these changes.

Elena offers the following 17 tips for implementing change in the workplace:

  1. Provide facts that describe why the change is needed. Explain clearly the vision and expected outcome of the change.
  2. Involve employees in the steps to reach the change outcome(s).
  3. Have employees involved in developing new, replacement procedures, as appropriate.
  4. Be consistent, follow through, and stay focused on the outcome.
  5. Model good behaviors around change, encouraging employees to accept the change, as well.
  6. Provide helpful visuals, including time tables, calendars, pictures, etc.
  7. Show how the change will benefit the employee.
  8. Be intentional about the changes you make. Don’t just initiate change for the sake of change.
  9. Explain how (and why) old processes or procedures have become outdated, and how (and why) the new system will work better.
  10. Share information about changes face-to-face. Be open to answering questions and addressing concerns.
  11. Encourage feedback. Demonstrate that you’re considering employees’ input and reiterate that their thoughts and suggestions are valuable.
  12. Offer additional support through the transition.
  13. Reward positive behavior.
  14. Spotlight positive results to the team.
  15. Allow time for change to be consistent.
  16. Follow up and enforce the change on an ongoing, long-term basis.
  17. Don’t get discouraged if employees don’t immediately accept or embrace the change.

“To excel in implementing and managing change, first gain your employees’ trust. When employees trust you, they’re more likely to believe in you and your goals, and be open to the changes you’re asking them to accept,” Elena explained. “These tips will help encourage change, overcome obstacles, provide support, maximize successes and reach your desired outcomes as a team.”