The Signs of Change Fatigue

Shawnee Love   •  
August 31, 2016

Change is constant in most workplaces today; however, that doesn’t mean it’s going well.

As we discussed in a previous blog, you need to be aware of the signs and symptoms of change fatigue in order to successfully navigate a big change.  Generally, I look for the presence of significant change in the organization along with:Monday morning again

  1. Reports of staff feeling:overwhelmed,
    1. stressed,
    2. angry,
    3. frustrated, and
    4. tired?
  2. An increase in absences (e.g., sick days, personal appointments, etc.) and/or personality conflicts?
  3. Apathy?  E.g., Have you held meetings where people stare blankly at each other, keep silent, and basically seem shut down?

When change is rampant and you find these 3 signs, you are likely to have employees with change fatigue.

One solution is to ease up on the gas, but that isn’t always practical.  Therefore, to reduce change fatigue and get employees refocused on the work to be done, you will need to work 5 different angles.

First, you will want to communicate the purpose of the change and the plan.  Hopefully this isn’t the first time employees have heard the plan, and you are merely providing a reminder of why they need to go through the pain.  This step reminds them why the change is mission critical.

Second, you will want to ensure you have leaders aligned with the plan and leading the change as part cheerleader, part obstacle remover, part counselor, and part coach.  You also need to deputize change ambassadors who continue the encouragements for change in the teams and on the front lines, so people don’t lose heart when the bosses are gone.

Third, it helps to spend time celebrating successes and progress and saying goodbye to the past.  Acknowledging what is gone is a necessary part of the process of moving on and can give closure to those employees who liked the old ways.

Fourth, introduce wellness efforts that support change.  Introduce stress relieving tactics such as exercise, breaks, healthy food, yoga, meditation, etc.  People who are personally resilient are generally able to handle change better than those whose wellness stores are depleted.

Fifth (and likely the least popular) is find ways to ease up heavy workloads.  The reality is, many organizations approach change like it is just one more task. However, to the people experiencing the change and who often don’t have any control over it, the work keeps increasing and yet they are supposed to be learning new ways to do it at the same time.  As an employer, consider bringing in temporary help, outsourcing, or even re-prioritizing to ensure employees can focus on what’s important which is learning and integrating the change rather than getting bogged down in details.

Finally, be warned that even if you take immediate steps to address change fatigue, like any fatigue, it takes time to rejuvenate.  Be patient and if in doubt, repeat steps one through five.

Please comment below if you have additional ways to reduce change fatigue, and thanks for reading!