As entrepreneurs, leaders, and supervisors, we often get excited about changes. New technologies, marketing strategies, and team members are all things that can help our businesses achieve their goals. However, not ever feels the same way about change. Sometimes, change can be difficult for some people around you. Specifically, your employees.
Employees can often be resistant to change within an organization. This resistance can negatively impact a business in many ways. Reduced productivity and low performance are one of the first negative impacts that can happen. Employee turnover can also increase if employees do not respond well to change. Resistance to change also cause conflicts and can lead to employees not getting along within the organization.
Understanding why employees resist change is essential for leaders to effectively manage the change process and ensure a smooth transition. In this article, we’ll take a look at the 8 major reasons why employees resist change.
Uncertainty and Fear
One of the primary reasons why employees resist change is uncertainty and fear. This isn’t unique to just employees, however. Humans in general do not respond well to change. Change can mean a lot of things that humans interpret as negative.
Change can disrupt everything and create an environment of uncertainty. This can cause feelings of fear and anxiety among employees. They may fear how the change will affect their roles within the organization. This fear can lead to resistance as employees try to protect themselves and their interests.
As a leader, it is your responsibility to try to answer as many questions as possible to reassure your team. Acknowledge the fear that they may be feeling. It would also help to share any fears you may be feeling as well. Doing so will help show some empathy which can help alleviate some of the fear your employees are feeling.
Lack of Understanding
Another reason why employees resist change is a lack of understanding. Employees may not fully understand the reasons for the change or the benefits it will bring. If employees do not understand the reasons for the change or how it will benefit them, why would they want to participate? Leaders need to communicate clearly and transparently about the reasons for the change and how it will benefit employees.
Communicate to them clearly what is happening and how it will affect them. Create online presentations, manuals, and slideshows, if necessary. Also, hold team and one-on-one meetings to ensure that employees understand what is going on.
Loss of Control
When changes are made within an organization, employees may feel like they are losing control over their work environment. Since the human brain likes to be in control, this can create anxiety and resistance. Additionally, employees may feel like they are not being included in the decision-making process. This can also lead to a sense of exclusion and resistance to the changes being implemented.
One of the things you can do when employees resist change is to involve them in the process. Give employees responsibilities where they feel in control of some of the changes. Be sure to solicit feedback throughout the process to see if their fear is subsiding.
When employers mention change, most employees worry about one thing: their jobs. In 2022 major tech companies began communicating the changes that were coming in 2023. Many of those changes involved laying off employees. By early 2023, major tech companies had laid off nearly 130,000 employees. It is no wonder that when startups, small businesses, and even non-tech companies use the word “change’ employees get nervous.
Expect employees to be concerned about their job security when you bring up the topic of change. If the change you plan on implementing will not result in job loss, reassure your team. However, if layoffs are a possibility, be open and honest about it. Do everything you can to retain your top talent for the sake of your customers. But make sure all employees know if their job security is in danger so that they can prepare themselves and their families ahead of time.
People have an irrational love for things they own. Even a job, software, or a particular position. The Endowment Effect refers to the psychological phenomenon in which people tend to overvalue objects, goods, or possessions they already own, compared to the value they would assign to the same object if they did not own it. In other words, people place a higher value on things merely because they possess them. Some studies have shown that human decision-makers consistently overvalue their personal possessions. Even if they haven’t owned them for long.
Your employees may be used to their desks, computers, programs, and processes that they use every day. Even though some of these things belong to the company, employees still have a sense of ownership. Their resistance to change may be because they value what they have more than they should.
Take the time to make them aware of the good the changes will bring. Encourage comparisons between the old and the new. These things will help your employees adapt to the change and begin building attachments to the new instead of holding on to the old.
Possible Cultural Shift
We all know that culture is a huge part of a successful company. Building a winning culture isn’t easy. So when a change can also mean a shift in company culture, employees may hesitate. Change in company culture can play a significant role in employee resistance to change.
On top of that, in some organizations, there may be a culture of resistance to change. This is where employees are conditioned to resist any changes that are made. This type of culture can create a sense of complacency, where employees are comfortable with the status quo and do not want to disrupt it. In these cases, leaders must work to create a culture of openness and adaptability. There needs to be a culture where employees are encouraged to embrace change and are provided with the necessary support to do so.
Lack of Trust
Another reason why your employees resist change may not be their fault. It could be the fault of leadership. If you and your leadership team have not done well in the past to prepare employees for change, they will have little faith in your ability to do it again. The lack of trust will perpetuate your employees’ resistance to change.
Trust is essential for any successful change management initiative. If employees do not trust their leaders, they are less likely to be receptive to change. Therefore, leaders need to build trust with their employees by being transparent, communicating effectively, and providing opportunities for employee input.
Here are some reasons why you may have lost the trust of your employees when it comes to making changes:
- A history of making decisions that negatively impact employees
- A lack of transparency
- Poor communication
- Slow or non-existent follow through
The best time to start building (or rebuilding) trust is right away. Acknowledge any failures in the past and show that you’re committed to not making the same mistakes. This should help get you are your team moving forward.
Employee resistance to change is a common challenge that organizations face when implementing new processes, technologies, or strategies. While resistance to change is natural, it can impede progress and hinder organizational growth if not addressed effectively. Leaders must understand the causes and implement solutions if they want their organizations to change with the times.