How HR Can Prepare the Workforce for Change: 5 Simple Tips

As change managers know, it is essential to prepare the workforce for change in the organization.

If a workforce isn’t ready for change, then a number of problems can result.

Employees can, for instance:

  • Be taken surprise by a change project
  • Become confused and frustrated
  • Resist change and become less productive

Naturally, there is no way to completely prevent such problems.

However, with the right strategy, HR can prepare employees, reduce friction, and mitigate resistance.

Below, we’ll look at a few tips and strategies that can help.

How Can HR Prepare the Workforce for Change?

Change managers are well-versed in the techniques used to prepare employees for organizational change.

Here are 5 tips and tactics that can help minimize resistance and other negative impacts that are caused by poor preparation:

1. Communicate Clearly

Clear communication is a hallmark of successful change projects, or any employee-related business discipline, for that matter. 

A communication strategy should be built around specific goals, such as:

  • Building awareness of a project
  • Earning acceptance of the program’s agenda
  • Self-reported commitment to a set of actions, on the part of employees

Top concepts to communicate include:

  • The aims of the project
  • Schedules, deadlines, and objectives
  • Roles, responsibilities, and expectations

The right communication plan can dramatically improve employee support, reduce resistance, and ultimately improve the overall outcomes of a change management project.

2. Invite Total Participation

Feelings of alienation can rise when employees feel that they are being excluded from the decision-making process.

Naturally, not all employee input can influence the program.

However, inviting participation from employees – and incorporating their ideas into the change program – is an excellent way to reduce those negative sentiments.

There are several ways to accomplish this:

  • Hold dialogues, meetings, and review sessions with groups of employees
  • Invite feedback through surveys
  • Encourage employees to provide feedback and ideas for the change project

By actively soliciting participation from workers, HR professionals can create a two-way dialogue, rather than simply mandating and explaining the agenda.

This will help employees feel as though they are an active part of the change program – and, as a result, they will participate and support it more fully.

3. Lead by Example

In addition to engaging in two-way dialogue, change leaders, HR professionals, and managers should step in and lead by example.

If a business is adopting new business processes or software, for example, those leaders should embody that change before anyone else.

As with the other two methods mentioned above, this will:

  • Help employees see that leaders and managers are “on their side”
  • Improve the efficiency and outcomes of a change project
  • Reduce resistance and boost motivation

Effective leadership is one of the most powerful tools in a change manager’s arsenal.

Although the results may be difficult to quantify, effective leadership and decision-making can transform a project’s results, turning it from a failure into a success.

4. Be Data-Driven

Data can be used throughout a change project to improve results, including during preparation.

For instance:

  • Predictive modeling can be used to assess team synergy, project performance, the viability of the proposed solution, and much more
  • Software analytics and AI can be used to gauge employees’ software proficiency and readiness for change
  • Data and analytics can be used to gain insight into existing or past projects, which can inform decisions around current projects 

Traditionally, neither HR nor change management have been considered data-driven business functions.

However, with the advent of the internet, analytics, and other modern technology, the landscape is quickly changing.

HR professionals that utilize this to better prepare their workforce and their change projects will certainly reap greater rewards from their efforts.

5. Leverage Other Digital Technology

Above and beyond data and analytics, here are plenty of other digital solutions that can help prepare employees for change.

Digital adoption platforms (DAPs), for instance, can train employees on-the-go.

They use a variety of features to train employees directly inside applications, such as:

  • In-app walkthroughs. Software walkthroughs take users one step at a time through a workflow or a task flow. This automated in-product tutorial can greatly improve the results of employee training efforts, ensuring that they are ready for any digitally-oriented change project.
  • Product tours. Product tours quickly and automatically introduce a product’s features to trainees. These quick introductions can help improve marketing funnel conversion rates, trial conversion rates, and onboarding program outcomes.
  • Software analytics. Software analytics track user behavior inside an application, helping trainers better understand their training needs. When it comes to digital adoption and organizational change, this information can be used to improve training outcomes and employee productivity.

In organizational change projects that require software adoption, these tools are invaluable.

Employees will learn more efficiently, more quickly, and more effectively – and they will be much more prepared for organizational changes that involve digital adoption.

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.