Why Is Organizational Change So Difficult for Employees to Accept?

Why Is Organizational Change So Difficult for Employees to Accept?
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Organizational change is necessary for the growth of your business, but it’s not always easy for your employees to accept. People fear change and the unknown that it brings, and they resist it. Yet if your company doesn’t change, it remains stagnant, and that means it will never reach its full potential.

With all that your company has to potentially gain from change, you may wonder why it is so hard for employees to accept. Why can’t they get over their instinctual fear when they think through the advantages that are to be had?

Understanding the reasons that employees are so resistant to changes in their places of work is essential to overcoming that resistance and achieving success. Here are a few of the most common reasons that people resist this change:

1. They are Worried about Job Security

One of the biggest reasons that employees resist organizational change is that they’re worried it will impact their jobs negatively. They are either worried that it will make their jobs more difficult, or they are worried that they may even lose their jobs. Often, the introduction of big changes in a company leads to layoffs or reorganization that results in job loss.

You can easily overcome this fear by explaining how the changes you propose will actually enhance your employees’ jobs or give them greater security. You can show how the changes will save money so the company can afford raises or new hires, or how the changes will enhance productivity so that employees experience less stress on a day-to-day basis.

Do not ignore these fears or assume that employees will connect the dots on their own. Address this concern head on to take the power away from that fear and motivate employees to embrace the changes ahead.

2. They are Afraid of Failing in the New Environment

For some employees, the news that there will be big changes in the workplace can make it seem like they are starting a new job. They might have to learn how to use new software or equipment; they might have to learn new procedures; and they might even have to get used to new management or new co-workers.

Just like when they are starting a new job, employees might feel anxiety over how they will perform. They don’t want to fail at the new “job,” so they may resist the changes in favor of the work they know (and are already good at).

Giving your employees plenty of information and proper training will help them to overcome this fear. Presenting the training in stages can also help the employees feel like they are mastering the skills quickly and easily, which will make them feel empowered in their new roles.

3. They May Resist Change as a Way to Gain a Strategic Advantage

When one person fails, another person may seize the opportunity to shine by comparison. Therefore, some employees may hope for failure to raise themselves up, and others may fear the risk of failure and the vulnerability it can cause.

Some might resist change to make them seem like the smartest person in the bunch – the one who knew that the changes were destined to fail, and that means that they have vision and leadership. Some might resist change because they fear the political maneuvering that might occur as a result, with them in the most vulnerable position.

Never underestimate the power of office politics in anything that happens in the workplace. When big changes are afoot, bit power shifts can also happen.

4. There is No Appropriate System of Rewards

Whether we want to admit it or not, we are all selfish creatures by nature. We always want to know: “What’s in it for me?”

That is especially true of your employees. They don’t share your passion for the company – they show up for the gratification they get from the job, the environment in which they work, their salary, and other benefits.

Employees might fear change because they don’t see what’s in it for them. They may not see inherent benefits, such as enhanced productivity, and they may not see that there are any built-in rewards to the new system.

Examples of some good rewards include recognition for the people who made the most impact during the change process or even cash or prizes for those who come up with the best ideas for the new system or who meet goals faster.

You need to think outside the box to come up with rewards that will be enticing enough to be attractive enough to employees and get them motivated to participate in the organizational change.

5. They are Influenced by Peer Pressure

No one likes to be the odd man out. Everyone wants to feel like they are part of the group, and that they are liked and accepted. They also take comfort in knowing that the group is leading them.

Unfortunately, that can work against your overall goals when it happens in the workplace. If a few people are resistant to the organizational change happening, they can spread that negativity to others, causing more and more employees to also doubt the changes.

You need to take a proactive approach to your organizational changes, making sure you provide plenty of information at the outset so that you can win over your employees before doubt has a chance to set in and spread.

6. There is a Climate of Mistrust at the Company

If your employees don’t trust what management has to say or questions their motives or their leadership, they will be resistant to any changes that are introduced. They won’t trust that the leaders have their best interests or the best interests of the company in mind, or they won’t trust that the leaders know how to make the best decisions.

If this is the reason that your employees are resisting changes, you obviously have much bigger problems on your hands. Ideally, you would take steps to improve trust and communication with employees so you can fix the bigger picture before you move on to adopting changes. Working with a consultant could help you make the appropriate human relations changes before you could make organizational changes.

Use the Right Change Implementation Software to Manage the Change Process

Changing hearts and minds can be more an art than a science, but using the right tools to implement your change process can make it a little easier. WalkMe is change management software that makes it easier for you to implement the changes you want to make, track your progress, and measure your success. The software can be adapted to your company and your needs so that you get the most effective solutions for your change management process.

Organizational change never comes without a few bumps in the road. You will need to create a plan to overcome employee resistance to ensure enthusiastic adoption and ultimate success. Using WalkMe can help you manage the process and ensure that everything runs smoothly, which will garner the trust of your employees and make them feel more confident about what’s to come.

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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