As companies continue to adapt strategies, processes, and technologies to stay competitive, employees have felt both the pace and impact of change increase from even three years ago. Communicators continue to worry about change's impact on employees—and rightly so: employees suffering from change-related stress perform 5% worse than the average employee. For the average company, this translates to a $32.5 million hit to the bottom line per $1 billion in revenue.
We went through complex changes to respond to the economic environment, which placed high demand on our Communications team.”
Most communicators try to combat the performance penalty by increasing employee buy-in to change. This approach worked well when large-scale change happened infrequently, as companies had employees' full attention for change planning and execution. But in today's pace of change, employees do not have the luxury of recovering from the previous change before the next one hits them. Worse still, most of companies expect even more change in the near future.
Frequent change negatively impacts employee performance. Communications teams that focus on driving employee commitment to change rather than on increasing employee capability will create more stress for employees and actually harm performance.
Focusing solely on securing employee buy-in fails to address the way change destroys some of the fundamental building blocks of employee performance.
Realizing the benefits of transformation requires more than creating a commitment to change; it’s ultimately about creating or reestablishing employees’ capability to change. While employee commitment to change does increase performance, capability to change has over three times as much impact.
- Plan for Change: Give employees the information needed to rebuild their skills, relationships, and beliefs.
- Create a Change Messaging Strategy: Build self-confidence, and prompt information seeking.
- Coach Senior Leaders: Train leaders to help employees decipher market trends, and form a connection to strategy.
- Help Managers Communicate: Invest in managers' communication skills to support employee independence.
- Measure and Monitor Change: Connect metrics to desired outcomes, and adjust your tactics when change stalls.