Coping with changes at work

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Health Assured team

17 December 2019

Change is natural. Change is usually good.

But a change in the workplace can be unsettling, and it’s hard to predict how people will react.

Sometimes the reaction to change is positive and simple, and the process of change is smooth. But other times, sweeping changes in the workplace cause anxiety, project failures, loss of production and resignations. It all depends on how you as an organisation manage change and the reactions that follow.

There are many reasons for a change in the workplace:

  • Compliance with new laws
  • A new leader with big new ideas
  • A rollout of new technologies, systems and processes
  • Customer demand
  • Economic pressures, or identification of new markets


Managing change in the workplace

The biggest barrier to smooth changes in the workplace is resistance to change. Humans like routine, and disturbing that routine can lead to questions, stress and anxiety.

Resistance, then, is a natural reaction. We fear uncertainty, we get nervous when we feel a lack of control, and we disengage when we don’t know what’s around the corner.

Managing change is a valuable skill which can help increase loyalty, and is seen as strong leadership. But when it’s handled badly, it can be damaging to both the organisation and the people within it. Here is a brief guide to some ways to how to manage change at work:

  • Set a clear goal, and stick to it: people like to know that they’re working toward something concrete. Don’t be ambiguous, let them know the end result of the change, the time-frame in which you hope to achieve it, and their place within it all.
  • Plan early, plan often: make sure every effect of the change is mapped out, and that you know how to deal with any issues that might arise. The bigger the change, the bigger the impact—be ready.
  • Define the change clearly: similar to setting a goal, but more for yourself and managers. Be sure you know exactly what’s going on, and provide updates if the definition changes.
  • Listen: as we said earlier, people are resistant to change. They’ll have a lot of questions—it’s important to listen to these, and offer real advice and reassurance. Any negativity will only be made worse by dismissing fears and worries.


How to adapt to change at work

You might have been working at an organisation for years, or only just starting—and then an email lands. Restructuring. Changes are being made, and it’s possible that your role is one of those changes.

It’s uncertain and can be stressful. So, how best to handle the changing position at work?

  • Stay positive: change can be hard, but it’s even harder if you go into it with a negative attitude. Think about the best things you can bring to a new role or department, and concentrate on those.
  • Keep in touch: you may move to a new desk in a new department, but that doesn’t mean your old colleagues are dead to you. Meet up, share stories, and keep those connections.
  • Make new friends: your new department is probably as unsettled as you are by all the movement. Be friendly and open, and talk about the positives.
  • Learn new skills: it’s probable that your new department is full of people who know things you don’t. Ask questions, get familiar, and expand your skillset.
  • Look out for your health: if you’re switching from night to day shift—a huge change—make sure to look after yourself mentally and physically. Get plenty of sleep—without snoozing—eat lots of fruit and veg, drink lots of water and do some exercise as soon as you wake up. Changing your body’s rhythm is hard, but possible.


Using an EAP to embrace change at work

If your role involves managing or looking after a team of people, Health Assured can help.

Our EAP support helps employees who are uncertain or unsettled in the face of change. With the support and guidance of our qualified counsellors, we can assist in challenging poor performance, behaviour or bad attitudes before they can develop.

Sometimes it’s as simple as reminding the employee of the EAP service provided and the support available. Other times it may involve coaching to challenge behaviour or dealing with specific performance-related issues.


Expert Support

If you’re facing drastic change at work, and need help, contact Health Assured to discuss how we can help. Call us on 0844 892 2493.

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