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There can be few companies that haven’t been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic in some way…

The global public health crisis has had an unprecedented impact on the business world, which means that, as the economy attempts to recover, change of some kind is inevitable for many organisations.

Whether it’s about restructuring, cutting jobs or adapting working practices, change can be a shock to the system and not always welcome. It’s important to try and take your employees along on that evolution journey willingly, without destroying morale or trust.

So, what do your employees need and deserve from you?

This situation is unusual in that your employees will already be well aware of the exceptional circumstances that may have influenced the need for change. But when communicating a change that may meet resistance or cause anxiety, leaders cannot rely on their staff’s sympathy over the pandemic to drive through controversial decisions without transparency. Indeed, during a time of great stress for millions, it’s more important than ever to demonstrate a collaborative approach to recovery.

Just as before the Covid-19 outbreak, employees need to feel respected and valued. They also need to believe that, even if a decision is unpopular, the business reasons behind the decision are sound, fair and well-considered. Don’t forget, for some people, the business impact of the crisis will have far-reaching personal consequences, from vanished promotions to setbacks in their professional development. So, maintaining trust in their employer’s judgement and integrity will have a huge impact on their morale.

Anticipate the key concerns

Where feasible, consult with your staff over the proposed changes; find a way to collate their views and really consider their ideas. Who knows, there might be a real bright spark among them!

Where unpopular or challenging changes are unavoidable, you need to strike the right balance between upholding authority – the final decision has been made, so to allow further debate would be unhelpful – and compassion for the impact it will have on your staff. Try to anticipate what the key concerns will be (ideally, by asking your employees directly) and have workable solutions ready. Be willing to listen to fresh ideas and take a genuinely flexible approach to the future, as you may not get things right first time.

Evolution means change and change is sometimes painful. But, with your workforce on board, this evolution could become a positive revolution.

Looking to develop your Change Management skills?

Our Change Management course is valuable for business owners, managers and supervisors, as well as anyone else who has a responsibility for managing change. In the event of a significant change within a business, these individuals can ensure that it permeates throughout the entire structure, and quickly attend to any issues that arise.

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Mark Fryer

1st September 2020