Managing change as an employer 

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Health Assured team

22 April 2020

Change is usually put in place at work in order to make things better. You make changes to improve work rate, or increase cash flow, or optimise the processes you have in place. 

This is how change works in a perfect world. But in a world affected by a global pandemic, these normalities fly out of the window. Change in these circumstances is sudden, it can be drastic, and all the change management workshops you’ve done—while helpful—won’t have prepared you for anything quite so huge. 

Luckily, a lot of the same rules apply. Managing change for your employees—even when it’s something as out of the ordinary as furloughing most of them—doesn’t have to be a stressful process. And if you can show yourself to be a clear leader in times like this, you’ll be rewarded with great loyalty when the dust settles and we all return to normal. 

So, here are some ways to manage change—even in the time of COVID-19. 

Be clear 

People like routine (at least, most people.) There’s a reason for the working day beginning at 9am for many, and why people like to have regular, predictable shifts. Clarity is vitally important for people’s plans. It’s hard to live a fulfilling life if you don’t know what’s happening tomorrow, and work patterns falling into a simple, clear routine makes that a lot easier. 

Now, it’s likely that you yourself don’t really know what’s going to happen. Times are uncertain, after all. But communicating everything that you do know goes a long way when managing people during this time of change. 

So any information you have, any messages you think people could use—put them out there. 

Communicate constantly 

Right now, a vast swathe of the workforce is either working from home, or furloughed. This is, for most, by far the biggest change to working life experienced so far. Someone used to coming in to the same office every weekday for the past 25 years isn’t going to find suddenly setting up a home office in their kitchen an easy task psychologically. 

Talk to your people as often as you can. Offer reassurance, and try to make everything as normal as possible. And as outlined above, whenever you have news about what’s going on, cascade it down.  

Make plans 

Time is of the essence right now. As a key part of your business, you’ve got a lot on your plate. But it’s essential that you look ahead, and make sure that you’re prepared for anything that could come next. 

Keep abreast of the latest issues and developments as the situation flows and evolves. Work out how you’ll deal with any and all eventualities that arise. Set up action plans that’ll head off problems, and take advantage of the positives. And, as above, communicate your plans to the people that rely on you. It’s a lot of work, and it might not be easy. But when it’s all said and done, you’ll have proven yourself an effective, confident and capable leader that people will follow into whatever might come next. 

Listen 

This one is important. 

People are going to be unsure, anxious, and even frightened right now. We’ve never seen anything like the coronavirus situation before. And even in the best of times, people are naturally resistant to changes in their routine. 

There are going to be a lot of questions and concerns. Listen to them all, carefully. Answer them with sincerity. Make sure these people have an outlet.  

If you find this all too much, then the perfect way to reduce that burden is with an employee assistance programme. Not just for your employees—you yourself could benefit from advisors and counsellors on-hand 24/7. Get in touch with Health Assured today to talk about this—we’re here for you, even during global pandemics. 

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