How can they maintain wellbeing at work when they face changes on a daily basis?
It is clear that constant change is here to stay. The ability to adapt to work-related changes and possible conflicts and to learn new things varies greatly. Change is a major challenge to business operations. Change typically involves a reform in the ways of working and a simultaneous learning process. Success in this requires good planning and communication and a team effort. In many cases, various support measures may be necessary.
Good planning reduces uncertainty and supports a good work atmosphere during a transformation. Employee engagement in the planning as well as sufficient communication promote understanding of the need for change and its effects on one’s work.
In today’s transformation of work, there is no turnkey solution for employees. Instead, each employee must take responsibility for their own capabilities and competencies in the labour market. The transformation may also involve the termination of employment and the search for a new job.
Communicate, communicate and once again communicate
Without communication, even a small change will not materialise and will erode job satisfaction. Communication should be two-way. There is never too much information. The aim of communication is to help employees understand what the transformation is about and how it will affect the targets.
From the employees’ viewpoint, it is important that they can influence the implementation of the change process. The supervisor’s role is not to hold the entire work community on its feet but to ensure a constructive dialogue and atmosphere.
However, the mere provision of information is not sufficient. Change also requires listening. Employee participation and opportunity to influence decision-making improves their commitment to the change.
In large companies, it is not always possible to listen to everybody. Therefore, supervisors and employee representatives should act as messengers. Supporting supervisors during the change process is important because they often implement the change on the practical level. Furthermore, the burden on employee representatives may also be excessive.
The persons involved can best communicate whether they need support and, if so, what kind of support. The opportunity to receive support from the management, HR services and occupational health care must be ensured throughout the transformation process.
The impact of change on employees’ health
The changes in working life may affect employee health and wellbeing. Uncertainty is the most common factor reducing wellbeing. Employees typically feel uncertain in connection with new competence requirements or duties, or when their employment terminates.
If employees do not get enough peer and supervisor support during the transformation process, their job satisfaction and commitment to work may become at stake. This may also change their relationships with co-workers and supervisors.
A change may also have a positive effect on certain employees’ wellbeing. This means that the change supports their health and work capacity.
Change burdens the work community
A change always progresses step by step and does not end at the implementation of a new way of working. In many cases, it also leads to a decline in productivity that lasts for some time.
The challenges involved in the transformation require long-term efforts from both individual employees and work communities. This includes dealing with emotions, which cannot be separated from changes in the work community, work processes or working methods.
Given time, the situation will eventually stabilise. However, it is very common that there is hardly any stabilised situation before another need for change arises. However, it is a good idea to stop and assess the changes achieved. This will benefit the whole company.
A work community with a high level of wellbeing is not only more productive – it is also more prepared for new changes. The desired change can be achieved through joint efforts.
How to support transformation in your organisation?
- Always discuss with persons affected by the change
- Call a spade a spade
- Discuss any problems with your supervisor
- Discuss matters in joint meetings
- Be constructive, look forward and try to find a solution
- Respond to any inappropriate treatment