Maintaining productivity in changing times

This edition’s Guest Columnist is human resources expert, Bernadette Eichner, founder of HRM Resolutions.

For organisations, change is a way to stay competitive and grow.  Whether it be a merger or an acquisition, the implementation of new technology, or simply responding to a changing labour force; organisations need to be flexible while staying productive and profitable.

But organisations are made up of people, and by nature, people are resistant to change. Organisational change is often perceived as a threat by employees, and evokes feelings of fear and insecurity, which in turn can reduce morale, focus, energy, and productivity.   The most common fears that lead to reduced productivity during times of change are increased workload, loss of control, loss of status, and loss of job.

Resistance and loss of productivity can be pre-empted by anticipating and understanding people’s reservations, and applying strategies to reduce these fears.  Employee’s reactions to workplace change tend to follow a recognised pattern:

Negative initial response  »  passive resistance  »  active resistance  »  passive feelings  »  acceptance.

The key components to combating fears and maintaining productivity in times of change are.

Leadership

Ensure that those leading the change support it thoroughly and lead by example.

Communication

Minimise negative speculation by communicating clearly and often.  Always give people the full picture – if people know and understand the reasons for change, they are more likely to play their part with greater enthusiasm and sense of direction.

Acknowledgement

Acknowledge the efforts people are making and thank them for their contribution.  Research tells us that the single biggest influence to improved workplace productivity and reduced staff turnover is the feeling that efforts and contribution are valued.

Reward

Celebrate the wins along the way.  Celebrations need not be large budget affairs.  Just getting the team together for morning tea and a round of applause and displays of mutual admiration is enough!

Keeping people productive in a changing environment is easier than you think!