Fifty-four percent of HR leaders say their workforce is currently suffering from change fatigue. Seventy-one percent of US employees are overwhelmed by changes at their workplace during the pandemic. Eighty-three percent of them say their employers aren’t providing them with enough resources or tools to help them properly adjust to the changes.
Change is the only constant in life. We’ve all heard this before. But too much change in a short period of time can negatively affect our professional and personal lives. According to Gartner, currently, the global workforce is capable of coping with only 50% of changes, a drastic drop from pre-pandemic. Small changes, such as getting a new manager or team, tend to have two-and-a-half times as much negative impact on employee well-being as big changes. This is due to the depletion of our surge capacity, an adaptive system that we use to overcome acutely stressful scenarios—our brains are working overtime to absorb, manage, and adapt to the new changes.
Given the current global and economic climate, it’s inevitable that changes persist and perpetuate a sense of overwhelm and restlessness in the workforce. It’s not just the sheer volume of changes that create an impact; it’s also the fact that each change brings about a certain degree of disruption of the daily norm. Constant adjustment and adaptation to new changes can be exhausting. Now more than ever, employees crave a certain degree of stability at work and at home.
5 ways to help your employees manage change fatigue
So what can employers and managers do to better support their employees? We’ve curated a list of actionable tips that you can use to build a workforce that will be resilient in times of change. We’ve also included Calm resources for your employees to try when they feel overwhelmed by too much change on a daily basis.
1. Establish a psychologically safe work environment
When your employees know and feel they’re in a psychologically safe environment, they’re more likely to be confident they can voice their thoughts and concerns about new changes. As part of creating a safe environment, managers should proactively be more empathetic and support their teams in adapting to new changes. Managers can dedicate some time during 1:1s or team-wide meetings to check in on how people and teams are doing. During big organizational changes, training managers on how to be empathetic and provide support during the transition is also critical. Our Calm Workshops team can help you create customized, interactive leadership development workshops to help train your managers to create a psychologically safe environment during times of organizational change.
2. Treat big and small changes equally
All changes, whether big or small, should get the same level of treatment in terms of communication and implementation. This will help your employees to be more resilient no matter what changes come their way since they know they’ll receive clear communication and support during the transition. You can also provide your workforce with resilience workshops to help build their ability to withstand change and continue to stay engaged at work.
3. Transparently communicate change and its purpose in advance
There’s a delicate balance, when it comes to transparent communications, between highly confidential information and public information that can be openly shared. We recommend transparently communicating changes, when possible, to all those affected to build trust and instill a sense of safety across the organization. If it’s possible, also let employees know whether they should be expecting more changes in the coming weeks or months so they can be mentally prepared. HR teams can support leadership by helping them draft internal communications on key organizational changes.
Changes are often made with wider business and organizational goals in mind. Employees usually hear only about the change and how it affects them, not the full context and the purpose and intention behind the change. Sometimes explaining the larger context to employees will help them understand and process the change. Doing so will also reassure your employees that you value them and want to keep open lines of communication.
4. Create feedback loops with your employees and broaden involvement with change
In addition to being empathetic and transparent in communication, it’s also important to ensure that your employees’ voices are heard. Create a process for feedback loops so you see how employees are coping with the changes. This might involve a discussion group led by managers to let their team members express how they’re feeling after an announcement of a big organizational change or an anonymous survey to gather input or both. You can proactively ask what kinds of resources and support your employees would like to see from their leadership team so expectations are aligned.
If possible, we also encourage organizations to include people who will be affected by the new changes at some point in the decision-making and implementation process. Doing so may reduce the negative impacts of change fatigue. We recognize that this might not be applicable to certain HR changes, but it’s good to consider when and how you can use this approach.
5. Integrate mental health breaks into the workday to help support change
Finally, when announcing a big organizational change, it’s important to provide support for employees who might be experiencing stress or anxiety due to the change.
For example, you could schedule daily mental health breaks or have managers begin meetings with a meditation to help your employees take a moment to de-stress and breathe. You could share Tamara Levitt’s Work Stress session on Calm; she guides listeners through a meditation practice that incorporates breathwork to help people self-soothe and recenter.
Your employees could also try Dr. Julie Smith’s Calm Your Heart with Deeper Breaths session on Calm, which helps listeners take deeper, slower breaths to naturally slow their heart rates and quickly reduce their anxiety. Finally, your employees could check out our Meditation collection for a variety of guided meditations that they can use anytime, anywhere.
Handling changes should be a collective effort
The responsibility of managing changing fatigue shouldn’t fall solely upon the individual; it’s a collective effort across the organization. The management team can support and work with affected people or teams in a variety of ways to assist them as they transition to the new normal. Find and implement what’s appropriate for your organization.
Changes can be difficult to manage, but we believe that integrating some Calm resources into your employees’ daily work routine can help alleviate negative impacts and set them up for success.
For more information on how you can help your employees better manage change fatigue during this time, connect with our Calm specialist today.