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When communicating organizational change, taking a less-is-more approach can be tempting. Or to say nothing at all—especially during challenging times. It’s not easy to talk about budget cuts, organizational restructuring, staff reductions, etc. Even topics like digital transformation and market repositioning can be contentious. Anything that impacts job security, job responsibilities or how work gets done is bound to get employees talking.

The real question is whether you want to let the rumor mill do the talking for you. There’s much to be said about actively steering communication rather than letting others dictate the terms. Adopting a proactive approach to change communication involves actively sharing information, fostering dialogue and acknowledging human and cultural aspects of change.

Change communication is not only an opportunity to inform employees. It can also be used to re-recruit employees by reminding them why you continue to be where they want to work. While explaining the “what” and the “why” of organizational change is important, so is winning hearts and minds. “Businesses that focus on the cultural aspect of change are five times more likely to attain breakthrough performance” than those that don’t, according to a study by Boston Consulting Group published by MIT Sloan.

Let’s not overlook the sheer number of changes businesses and employees are undergoing. In 2016, companies might plan for two enterprise-wide changes per year. Post-pandemic, that number has increased fivefold (HBR). In this context, it’s no wonder employees struggle to navigate their ever-changing work environment. Or that “96% of employees say they would like a more empathetic approach to communication in the workplace.”

Here are some tips for getting change communication right:

Get ahead of the change.

You’re not alone if you’re often brought in during the final hours before a change occurs. The good news is that there are some simple tactics to put communication on leaders’ radar. This includes tactics like cultivating relationships and allies within the leadership team. And demonstrating how communication impacts metrics that matter to the business. Having extra preparation time can be a key element in developing change communication. This sets leaders, managers and employees up for continued success. The more you position yourself as a strategic change partner, the better.

Incorporate employee voices as early as possible.

It’s not always possible to give notice of an upcoming change. When it is possible, employee feedback can provide valuable insights into the impact on their teams, other departments, customers, processes and more. You can identify items that may not be on anyone’s radar. This approach can also make employees feel more invested in the outcome.

What if you can’t involve employees in advance of an organizational change?

The next best thing is to let them ask questions and give feedback after announcing the change.

Equip managers to be change agents.

As soon as a change is announced, managers will get questions. So, gaining their buy-in and getting them up to speed is critical before a general announcement. You can also offer advice on acknowledging the human side of change. Remind employees of health and wellness resources to address change-related stress.

Help employees pivot.

The idea here is to get employees to shift their focus from what’s happened to where the organization is going and what it will take to get there. It boils down to giving them reasons to believe in what the company stands for and where it is headed. Even in adversity, there are opportunities to rally people around a common challenge and a shared sense of purpose.

Keep the employee experience front and center.

This stems the flow of employees leaving the organization and keeps those who stay engaged and aligned with business goals and objectives. Because let’s face it, engagement isn’t just about whether employees put in incremental effort. It’s also about whether they channel that energy in ways that benefit the business. In short, while employees may not always be happy with what you have to say, keeping the lines of communication open is essential. Help everyone make the best of a challenging situation.

What do you need help with?

  • Change communication planning and implementation?
  • Guidance on positioning internal communications?
  • Enabling managers to be effective communicators?

We’re the strategic partner who can work with you to create impactful communications strategies and plans. Let us assist you in defining new measurement opportunities and demonstrating the value of change communications for your organization. Reach out at [email protected].



Why Every Executive Should be Focusing on Culture Change Now, MIT Sloan

Employees are Losing Patience with Change Initiatives, Harvard Business Review

19 Workplace Communication Statistics in 2024, Brosix

Brosix Workplace Communication Statistics




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