It’s natural to think that change in the workplace is a bad thing. Change can be daunting, change can be scary, it removes us from our comfort zone. You know… that familiar zone we all want to live in forever!
But change is good in the workplace. So in this article, we are going to investigate and explain why any change in your organization has positive outcomes. We’re also going to explore the kinds of changes you’re likely to come across and why these changes can be good for your company …and why it’s cool to be a disruptor!
Within the scope of what you’d consider “changes”, some are those which may happen more frequently – or even less frequently, and others that come from organic growth. Both are just as important to keeping relevant and building your customer base in these competitive times.
So let’s take a look at the quick takeaway answer as to why it’s imperative that companies are forever growing and adapting to different circumstances within the company and the marketplace.
Why is change good in the workplace? Change in an organization leads to many positive aspects – that lead to retaining a competitive edge and also remaining relevant in your business area. Change encourages innovation, develops skills, develops staff and leads to better business opportunities, and improves staff morale.
That’s the brief answer as to why companies need to put change as a pivotal part of their strategy, so let’s move on to looking in a little more depth at why it’s important to adapt to change.
Why it’s important to adapt to change in the workplace
Change in the workplace can make us uncomfortable as we step out of what we normally do and attempt new ways of working. Adapting to change in the workplace is often difficult because it’s too easy to stay accustomed to our habits, however… change is essential to many aspects of business and our working life.
Those companies that don’t change can stagnate and not develop. Our current world is constantly evolving in terms of technology and many other challenging but innovative ways. Having the ability to face these new challenges head-on will not only develop the company as a whole but also those who work within it.
“Change is essential to many aspects of business and our working life”
So now we’ve taken a look at why adapting to change in the workplace is important to keep ideas fresh and moving forward, let’s now take a look below at some of the important positive benefits that can be brought about by being flexible and adapting to change more readily in a working environment.
What happens when businesses don’t change?
As we saw previously, while change may be difficult, it can also be tremendously beneficial to both the company and the employees at the business.
Companies who are stuck in their ways or who are unbending in the way they approach the business are opting for a stale working environment.
This environment doesn’t have the capacity to adapt to new possibilities including creative ideas …ideas that may lead to an overall improved operation or maybe a totally fresh new product or service.
“Companies who are stuck in their ways or who are unbending … are opting for a stale working environment”
It wasn’t that long ago that Blockbuster Video was “King” of the video rental business. At the height of their success, Blockbuster had thousands of retail locations and millions of loyal customers. Unfortunately, CEO John Antioco lacked a vision of the future and was resistant to face the inevitable change lurking on the horizon. In 2000 Reed Hastings, the founder Netflix (which at the time was a struggling startup providing DVD mail order services) proposed a partnership with Blockbuster. Antioco laughed in his face and turned it down. He wasn’t laughing long though. For much of the next ten years Blockbuster was in decline, and in 2010 filed for bankruptcy protection.
Innovation and the ability to react to change in your business area come with the possibility of great new business opportunities while ignoring the need to change can come at great peril.
Let’s take a look at examples of change in the workplace that you may have to react to in your organization.
What kind of changes happens in the workplace?
Today the workplace is changing, and it’s changing fast. There are many reasons why change hits in the workplace - and often with seemingly unrelenting frequency.
Many of the changes we are seeing are the result of the pandemic and what appeared a temporary change may now be longer lasting. In addition, some changes, such as government change, will always have a particular shelf life, but today the changes are coming on fast and more frequently.
Let’s look at the kinds of changes that you may have to react to in your organization.
- Structural Change – Remember going to work back in 2019? You woke up early and headed off to the office, arriving between 8 and 9? Usually, your workday ended around five, maybe 6, unless you worked on a special project or had a deadline, then you stayed a bit longer.
Today, that model seems outdated; COVID Changed everything. Most people work remotely, and they like it. Many companies are proposing a hybrid workplace where employees rotate in and out. This hybrid model gives employees the flexibility they crave. Big changes are ahead as the hybrid model transforms a company’s culture, engagement, and the way work gets done.
- Changing Demographics – For the first time in history, there are five different generations in the workplace. Diverse perspectives have changed the dynamics in the workplace. Understanding this multigenerational workforce and its implications will be essential for driving innovation, creating united and productive teams, and adapting to the future workplace.
- Changing Focus on Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity – Another significant change brought on by the 2020 protests is the increasing push to prioritize Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in the workplace. A substantial diversity and inclusion strategy will help to combat discrimination and cultural bias.
- Changes in Technology – For several years now, organizations have explored the relationship between their employees (people) and technology and how it impacts trust, relationships, and mental well-being. Now we are looking at how technology and AI affects the future.
- Change of Government – A new Government invariably means a shift of political agenda - which could affect how your business currently works.
- Product Changes – Something as simple as a product your company sells becoming end-of-life, or if market demand drops off for a particular product, you may have to act quickly.
At this point, you may need to transfer your efforts to another service which may require new creative thinking or simply just the transfer of labor to the new product focus.
- Mergers and Acquisitions – it could be that your company is looking to cut expenses or maybe pass on some funding or resources to something new. This could be in the form of Merger and Acquisition. At this point, perhaps it’s essential to reduce staff or alter the nature of the way staff work.
It’s easy to see that there are often many different types of change that occur organically and need to be responded to. Keeping change a part of your ongoing strategy will enable you to keep competitive – and also grow as a company.
The companies who can more easily adapt to these naturally occurring changes will likely be the kind to see the benefits of adopting a “positive change strategy” to reap the rewards.
Some of which are outlined below.
The positive benefits of change in the workplace
Although change may be an inevitable part of doing business, it’s not always embraced with open arms by employees, managers or business owners.
Workers may be hesitant to leave the familiarity of their comfort zone or fear that they won’t be able to adapt to the change.
While the short-term effects of change can sometimes be painful, dealing with change in the workplace can have a positive impact on a business’s success in the long run.
1. Encourages Innovation
Without change, companies may soon find themselves falling behind the curve and losing ground compared to competitors. They need to be able to change and adapt to keep up with our ever increasingly more technological and developing times.
Businesses should ideally move and adapt fluidly. Rigid work environments can result in shutting off creativity which helps new ideas grow.
It’s important that organizations realize a practice, policy, product, or service that is relevant today may not have customer value tomorrow.
“Businesses should ideally move and adapt fluidly.”
2. Promotes Skills Growth
An organization’s ability to nurture new skills and specialties will really help the whole business, including employees to become much more well rounded and talented team member.
Staff who perform the same jobs constantly day in and day out will never get the chance to show their skills or learn anything new to bring to the company. If people do the same thing day in and day out, they will never learn to develop new skills.
3. People Development
Although it can sometimes be difficult to persuade staff to embrace change, those who are able to embrace it with a positive attitude will stand to gain much more in personal development by working with the new strategies.
The staff who are able to see the benefits in change are often the most valuable to your company – not only will they develop personally, but will also create situations where the business will automatically grow alongside them.
4. New Business Opportunities
The ability to embrace change will continually help businesses to find and nurture new business ideas and opportunities. Having stellar change strategies will help any business to move forward into new areas brought about by the new ways of working.
This could be either by getting involved with other companies to expand, or simply new contacts which lead to sales growth.
5. Better Staff Morale
Staff who see their company more easily able to adapt to new circumstances and react to change are able to see positive attitudes from above, will always make a difference to the employee and view the company as one which is relevant and keen to advance.
Companies that are not afraid to make changes. Such as perhaps a change in Human resources that may lead to a more relaxed working environment …means they know the company leaders are doing their best to create better circumstances for them.
This will lead to more satisfied team members and in turn, helps to higher staff satisfaction and morale.
How to cope with change in the workplace
The truth is, coping with change in the workplace can be challenging, but there are a few strategies that will help you better adapt and even learn to embrace change.
- Try to maintain a positive attitude and be open-minded about the changes.
- Communicate effectively with your colleagues, supervisors and subordinates to understand the reasons for the changes and what the expectations are.
- Take the time to learn new skills or knowledge that may be required to adapt to the changes.
- Break down the changes into smaller steps, so that it is easier to manage and you can focus on one step at a time.
- Seek out support from colleagues, friends, and family. Share your concerns and seek feedback.
- Stay organized, prioritize and make a plan to tackle the changes, to help you stay focused and avoid feeling overwhelmed.
Remember that change is a natural part of the workplace. By seeing it as an opportunity to learn and grow you will be ready to not only cope with, but thrive in today's every changing workplace.
It’s clear to me that if you’re the kind of organization that understands the need for and the benefits of change, and you have a willingness to say yes, accept, and embrace change, then you will be the organization that stands above the competition.
Having a thorough change policy can also help retain staff and not get into the hire and fire money pit which could be a feature of those businesses that don’t have clear change structures put in place.
If you would like to know more about this topic or have any questions I’d love to hear from you, check out my change is good! presentation, and my other services.
“Our world is changing and changing FAST. Whether exploring generations in the workplace, promoting culture and inclusion, or boosting employee engagement, Karen McCullough’s keynotes provide the tools organizations need to face change head-on and thrive.”