How to Reduce Employee Resistance to Change

Employee resistance to change is completely natural and very common in the workplace. Because change produces anxiety and uncertainty, even the most cooperative, loyal and supportive employees may feel resistance. The range of reactions to change is always immense and unpredictable. More often than not, employees tend to lose their sense of security when change is introduced. The state of discomfort, caused by the idea to introduce change, makes it difficult for workers to move into new improvements, and instead, they slip back to the normal way of doing things. Generally, they see change as a difficult, in-between process that upsets the order of things in the workplace.

Recognizing that resistance is a natural step in the process of change will help you anticipate resistance, identify sources and reasons for resistance and modify your efforts to manage the issues of change. Resistance to change is healthy so do not react against it defensively. It helps you to check your assumptions and enables you to clarify what you are doing. This means it would be great to probe employee’s objections so that you find the main reasons behind resistance to change.

Forms of Employee Resistance to Change

Employee resistance to change may take a number of forms. These include persistent reduction in output, chronic quarrels, requests for transfer, increase in the number of quits and expression of pseudological reasons why the change will not work if implemented. It could also take the form of sullen hostility and wildcat strikes. At times, even small forms of resistance within an organization can be troublesome.

Why change is essential

Changes must occur in any industry. There is change in the method of work, in job titles, in personal assignments, in routine office procedures, in the location of working machine or office desks and in work positions. Not all of these changes can be implemented at once, but they play a big role in increasing the productivity of an industry. They are therefore vital to the progress of a business.

Reasons why employees resist change

As already seen, employees will try to push back change because want to avoid situations that could upset the order of things. The main reasons for resistance, however, could be the lack of information on what, who, how and why the need for change. Employees may also push back change because they anticipate that there will be a lack of support for those that will be affected by change.

Below is an additional list of reasons why employees are likely to resist change. 

  • Bad communication strategy within an organization
  • Shock and the fear of the unknown
  • The fear of job loss
  • Poor timing and lack of competence
  • Former change experience
  • Lack of a well established support system
  • Office politics
  • Empathy and peer pressure
  • Lack of trust and support within the entity

How to view resistance to change

You should view employee resistance to change as a normal reaction. Therefore, do not introduce change believing that resistance will be severe. Do not introduce a change with the belief that will result but resistance. Be optimistic and introduce change with the faith that the employees want to cooperate. Have the faith that they will view the change as an opportunity to make the best of every work situation. Introduce a change believing that they will fully support it as time goes by.

How to Reduce Employee Resistance to Change 

There are tried-and-true strategies to combat resistance and ensure employees that you are committed to their overall success. This reassurance will get them going along with the new program more easily than they have in the past.

Communicate the change

Adopt a frequent and an honest communication for restricting change in the industry. Talk to reporting staffs, employees and departmental colleagues face-to-face to inform about the change before implementation. Communication is a great way to reduce the fear of the unknown in terms of career advancements and job security. Early communication will also help win the hearts, minds and loyalty of the employees.

Involve employees in the change program

Do not introduce a change program before seeking consent from the lower level employees. Involving them in the change program will make them feel responsible for the success of the change process. Taking inputs from the employees shows that you are willing to include them in the process of restricting and implanting the new change effort in the workplace. When you allow employees to influence change with their creative approach and ideas, you help to reduce the fear of the unknown and the likelihood of resistance.

Negotiate with employees

Negotiating with an employee is a great way to activate an employee who would otherwise feel lost out in the change program. You can promise some future benefits and resource as an exchange of the compliance of employee to the request to introduce and implement change.

Introduce stress management

Understand that change is a stressful experience that creates uncertainty about tomorrow and the future. Change can also threaten an employee’s self-esteem. Most employees will experience some level of stress after the implementation of change effort. Work hand in hand with the Human Resource Management team to introduce a stress management program that will help all the employees cope with the new changes in the company.

Provide appropriate resources

Most employees are always unprepared to handle the change. Provide equipment, resources and training programs that will help them to adapt to and excel in the already changing environment. Create a trusting employee-orientation by being loyal to and honest with the employees. This will earn you trust from employees and help you build a strong relationship so that in the event of change, they will find it easy to the new developments.

Creating a wide feedback and improvement loop throughout the organization is a great way to reduce employee resistance to change. A feedback and improvement loop ensures that feedback corresponding to the change reaches the ears of the employees leading the change. Maintaining an open line of communication will help contribute to continuous improvements and the overall productivity of the organization. Doing all these create an employee oriented environment where transparence, trust and productivity thrives.

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Christopher Smith
Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.
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