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How to manage change in the workplace

Managing change can be challenging, but it’s important for your employees to feel supported through times of change, check out our guide here.

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Written by Ed Stennett

1 Mar, 2023  –  6 mins read

As a business, you’ll naturally have to adapt as your company grows or changes to meet external demands. Change can mean exciting and positive new developments but can also be challenging and uncomfortable in the short term.

Most people have an aversion to change and may feel upset or anxious about the impending transformation, often worrying about potential negative impacts, with questions such as: “Will I have my wages cut?”, “Will I like my new manager?”, or “Will I be forced to take on responsibilities I don’t want?”

As a leader, you have the important task of managing change in the workplace. At its core, this is about helping and supporting your employees adjust to the new norm. Although sometimes tricky to navigate, managing change properly is vital so that employee morale and productivity don’t suffer.

Looking for some tips on how to do that? Let’s take a closer look at organisational change management, how to be an effective change manager, and how to get those all-important communications right.

What is change management?

Looking for a straightforward change management definition? In simple terms, change management is a structured approach used to support staff through the process of change.

Effective change management is about guiding your employees through the transformation, relieving any worries or resistance to the change, and helping them to embrace the new working environment positively. If done well, your staff will make a smooth transition and maintain excellent performance.

Some workplace changes will be relatively small and stress-free, constituting so-called “fine-tuning” adjustments, but other organisational changes in the workplace can be challenging for employees. For example, a company-wide digital transformation project could be overwhelming for staff and, although often worth it, requires a lot of planning, communication, and training.

Mergers and acquisitions can also be incredibly challenging for staff as two different company cultures may be combined. Any change to culture in the workplace requires a lot of thought, patience, and investment to help staff embrace new ways of doing things.

Why is change management important?

Although managing change in the workplace can be tricky to navigate and requires planning and effort, adapting to evolving industry trends and business demands is essential for maintaining your competitive edge and helping your company grow.

Implementing a well-thought-out change management plan is essential for several reasons.

Reducing resistance to changes

When people feel resistant, they naturally experience higher levels of stress and discomfort. By managing change in the workplace effectively, you can minimise the negative impacts on employee health and well-being and see a quicker transition to the new working world.

Keeping staff morale high

Effective change management keeps staff happy and onside. Happy teams are more motivated and productive and spread positivity in the workforce.

Optimising productivity

The better you handle the process, the more quickly your staff will adapt to new technology, processes, or ways of working, helping to keep productivity high.

Minimising the financial cost

Linked to morale and productivity, the quicker you can help your team accept and embrace the new norm, the less disruption and loss to productivity and profits you’ll experience.

Maintaining your reputation

If you manage organisational change well, it’s not only your employees who will respect you for it. Business partners, clients, investors, and prospective employees will all look at a company’s reputation for managing its operations before deciding to do business or take on a role in the organisation.

How to effectively manage change in the workplace

There are many different approaches and strategies you can adopt, but here are some of the best strategies to effectively manage change in the workplace.

1. Create a change management plan

As with any project, it’s a good idea to have a clear and detailed plan that outlines the why, what, when, where, who, and how, before you start. Make sure to include the project scope, responsibilities, resources, finances, and a realistic timeline. That way you can make sure you’re covering all bases and keeping the transformation project on track.

2. Introduce change in stages

Diving in headfirst into a full organisation transformation can be risky. It’s best to introduce change gradually. Have a new IT solution? Trial it with a team or group to iron out any issues before you roll it out company-wide.

3. Be honest and transparent

Although you probably won’t be able to share all details with your staff, it’s a good idea to be as honest and transparent as possible. This is critical for avoiding misinformation or suspicion spreading through the workforce. If there are going to be challenges or compromises to be made, be transparent. Employees will trust you and the process more if you’re straight with them.

4. Use key influencers

Can you identify anyone in your workforce who is influential and commands respect from their colleagues? Bring key influencers into the fold, whether as early adopters, champions, or advisers, and with their support you’ll more easily bring others on board.

5. Communicate, communicate, communicate

There is no such thing as too much communication when it comes to change management. Change can be incredibly disruptive and disconcerting, so it’s important to communicate with your employees throughout the process. Whether it’s digital transformation, a mass restructuring, or managing culture change with internal communication, make sure to use various different channels to reach a wide audience.

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Top tips on communicating organisational change

With communication being so integral to the success of organisational change, it’s crucial to get it right. Here are our top five tips for nailing your all-important communication strategy.

1. Communicate with excitement

Although change comes with challenges, and it’s important to be honest about those, make sure to focus on the positives and communicate with excitement and enthusiasm about the end vision, the benefits, and what’s in it for your team.

2. Make communication a two-way process

As well as giving regular updates, it’s important to build trust via two-way communication. Make sure to provide opportunities for staff to raise questions and concerns and genuinely listen and act or respond to feedback.

3. Use the right messenger

Choose someone who’s trusted and has influence and authority to lead communications. It’s important that messages land confidently with staff.

4. Engage employees using diverse media and channels

Making sure that you engage employees across different departments, locations, and business sectors is crucial. Consider using a wide variety of tools and channels to reach your audience, like email, newsletters, Q&A sessions, Slack, or Yammer. With video being one of the best ways to engage in the digital age, take your communications even further with Seenit’s User-Generated Video solution.

5. Prepare for resistance

No matter how beneficial or necessary a change is, it’s natural for your employees to resist. Change is emotional. It’s a good idea to think about where potential objections might lie and prepare responses to them. Communicate with compassion, understanding, and patience; you’re much more likely to overcome resistance.


Change is an inevitable part of growing and running a profitable business. The key to successfully managing change in the workplace is being thoughtful and proactive.

By putting people at the forefront of your approach, crafting a realistic change management plan, and communicating regularly and honestly with your team, you’re sure to reap the rewards of a smoother, less-resistant transition.

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