Change Mismanagement: Why Your Employees Don’t Like Company Changes by @HRTMExec

“People are very open-minded about new things, as long as they’re exactly like the old ones.” ~ Charles F. Kettering 

Change may be in the air, but it’s not necessarily in your employees’ hearts. Some workers are neither optimistic about – nor confident in – your attempts to alter their working environment.

According to a recent survey of 750 creative professionals, conducted by The Creative Group and AIGA, it appears that some employees are downright skeptical about those new plans.

The survey results reveal:

  • Less than half (45%) of employees say changes within their organizations are carefully considered and well planned
  • More than half (53%) of employees say they are not sufficiently involved in implementing change
  • Roughly half (51%) of employees say they receive adequate training and information to keep up with changes in their industry
  • The bright spot in the survey is that almost two-thirds (64%) feel their leadership team is open to different ideas and opinions.

Which changes seem to irk employees the most? They appear to have the hardest time adapting to the following:


Very challenging



Very Easy

Changes in internal processes and procedures (e.g., new approval process)





Changes in staffing (new coworkers, restructuring)





Changes in business direction (e.g., new products/services/messaging)





Changes in technology (e.g., new design software)





Across the board, many employees appear to be staunchly opposed to changes in the workplace, and according to Diane Domeyer, Executive Director of The Creative Group, there are three primary factors fueling this opposition:

  1. Fear of being uncomfortable. People are creatures of habit, so any kind of change is going to be uncomfortable.

  1. The communication (of lack thereof) of the change. When not well-presented, it is very difficult for employees to accept change. Domeyer says companies should view change as a process and not an event.

  1. Employees may not realize the benefits of change. One of the strongest change motivators is personal gain, and if employees don’t see any personal benefit in the change, they’re going to be resistant.


Domeyer also says that companies have to recognize that there are four phases or stages that workers go through during the change process, and depending on the magnitude of the changes, these phases may take longer:

Denial: Employees are thinking, “Why do I need to do this?”

Resistance: Employees become vocal in their opposition

Exploration: Employees want to know, “What are the benefits? How will this change affect my daily life?”

Acceptance: Employees get on board with the change


Some companies may be tempted to adopt a more authoritative approach that fails to consider how workers may feel, but Domeyer says employee buy-in is important. “It is so critical to not only implement the change but also to retain a certain level of productivity. Understand that when workers are going through these phases, they may not be as productive as usual for a period of time. “

She also says that the company may have a lower level of employee morale, especially if the denial and resistance phases last too long. “And there may be a disconnect between management and staff which can result in disengagement, or a lack of a sense of purpose. Even worse, the change may never get implemented, or you may lose staff members.”

So what can you do to increase employee buy-in and ensure that the change process is as smooth as possible?

“Communicate, communicate,  communicate – over and over again. Also, through that communication reiterate the purpose, goal, and objective, and how it ties into individual contributions – not just the company’s reasons for change.”

Domeyer also recommends identifying a few key employees who are who are viewed as leaders and giving them a preview of the changes. “You want these people (peer leaders) on board when you roll out the changes to the rest of the staff. If they are not on board, it is going to be harder to get buy-in from the other staff members.”

Involve your team early. Give them an opportunity to offer ideas and suggestions, and also express their feelings about the changes.

She cautions that it’s going to take time for employees to go through each phase, and there will be a momentary loss of productivity. “Consider bringing in freelance or temporary workers to help with the workload.”

Domeyer’s final words of advice: “Just acknowledge through the process that there will be challenges and keep an open door policy.”


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