August 9, 2019

How to retain great employees amid periods of disruption and change

Organizational change or disruption can induce fear or apprehension among employees. Here are ways to lessen the impact, and keep top-performing employees engaged amid times of transformation.

In this employees’ marketplace, where job-seeking hurdles are less rigorous than in recent years, employees are apt to jump if they feel the corporate ship sinking or the foundation of their particular role, crumbling.

Such fears often erupt amid the throes of corporate change and/or disruption, which can induce fear and hand-wringing, especially among key employees. However, there are many ways in which employers can lessen the negative impact, and in some instances, capitalize on all the positives of even the most complex change events in your organization. 

Following are five ways employers can aspire to retain high-value employees amid these periods of tumult and transformation.

1. Communicate well

If the air is thick with confusion, and the leaders fail to communicate with clarity and calm, even the best-intentioned changes can adversely affect employees. Intercept those concerns by calling an all-hands meeting to lay out the situation and the plans going forward. 

For example, if the change involves outsourcing functions for which a particular team or department were heretofore accountable, explain why the change is afoot. Perhaps, the change will spur a significant cost-savings, or maybe there will be an opportunity to better serve customers this way. 

Then, emphasize how it bolsters their individual roles versus diminishing them. Perhaps by cutting costs in this area, the employees will see an uptick in raises or bonuses that previously had been neglected. Or, maybe by alleviating them of the task through outsourcing, you are freeing them to regain focus on a specific area of their core value, and perhaps even, to invest their energies in a whole new growth area.

In other words, if you capitalize on the change as a value-add to the team, and to the individual employees, then the change will be less daunting and risky. It may even galvanize them to navigate the change process with vigor, versus resistance.

Related: Communication, Reputation, Recruitment & The Power of Glassdoor

2. Recruit advocates

Perhaps you accurately predict that a certain percentage of your employee base will be lukewarm to the culture transformation that is in motion. However, you may also be able to identify a few, reliable advocates who can rally the troops in favor of this major renovation. 

Handpick people who are well respected, have garnered a reputation for trustworthiness and integrity and whose ability to communicate and influence is proven. To make the most of this human marketing capital, schedule time with the proponents to strategize methods of influence, as well as rewards for their involvements.

Divulge crucial information about the change effort, and answer their questions in both an overarching and detailed way. Express your desire to help them help you, and make the ask for their specific, actionable support.

One way to actualize their support is in-person and digital interaction, including social networking promotion. Exploit their influence online, via your company intranet or externally on the various social networking channels—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.

Related: 8 Engagement Templates to Encourage Employee Reviews

3. Fully Internalize the Vision

Be able to regurgitate the vision, with enthusiasm and calm. If you, as a leader, are infused with the details and passion behind the details of the imminent change, then you are more likely to imbue your team members with a similar excitement. 

4. Collaborate versus dictate

Assuming the overarching decision already has been made, identify opportunities to involve the employees in some of the subsequent decisions around the change. 

For example, perhaps your organization is uprooting the current enterprise technology system for something more modern and flexible in the long-run. However, the disruptive nature (or the perceived disruption) of the change has certain employees feeling angst and upset, particularly if the technology underpins the revenue drivers of the organization that feed their salary.

Consider how your employees may get involved in the customization of the new software as it is integrated into the new technology, or with the training or with some other aspect of implementation. Involving critical players that otherwise might feel disconnected to the decision can empower them and root them in the process, along the way. 

It may also open their eyes up to their flawed thinking in regard to potential revenue disaster, enabling them instead to see the vision as you see it–the potential for multiplying revenue results, and ultimately, their own income.

Related: Employee Engagement Checklist and Calendar

5. Build a culture of respect and support ahead of the transformation 

Lead by example on a daily basis, setting the standards high for integrity, positivity and encouraging support of one another. Having already developed a meaningful relationship with your team, where you reciprocally show respect and demonstrate support is foundational to future changes, small or large.

Empowered employees, who feel valued, who are held accountable to behave and perform at high levels, and who believe in their leadership are primed for change.

Often, even, they are eager for the next big opportunity, ahead of the transformation curve!


This post was originally published on Glassdoor, one of the world's largest job posting and recruiting sites.

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