The theme of the 2020s, as far as work is concerned, has been “change”. The pandemic changed the way we communicate with our coworkers, as well as changed the very location millions of people worked from. Beyond the great work-from-home shift, though, plenty of other elements of the workplace have been flipped upside down.

Teams have cycled through different communication platforms to master their hybrid environments, cultures have been reworked post-pandemic, DEIBA initiatives have become more actionable, learning management systems have been assigned, AI has changed the way many industries operate, and among all this, The Great Resignation has seen employees switch jobs at a higher rate than ever.

The problem with 9-5 workdays used to be how dull and repetitive they could be, with employees getting burned out by performing the same tasks every single day. Now, the problem is that they aren’t repetitive enough!

There’s real data to back this up – in 2016, Gartner research concluded that the average employee experienced two “change initiatives” a year, referring to any new program or plan that people have to adjust to. At the end of last year, Gartner discovered that the average employee experienced TEN change initiatives. Almost once a month, leadership teams have a new idea to shake up company workflow, from the environment they’ve created to the messaging platforms they use. It’s just too much.

In 2016, when these initiatives were rarer, Gartner says 74% of employees were receptive of such change. Nowadays, that number has plummeted to 43%. People are getting whiplash from all these new ideas, and it’s creating a host of issues. An oversaturation of change causes employees to feel more cynical about each move, and among all the meetings and new lessons, they’ll be distracted from their everyday work.

Here’s the catch: in a vacuum, there’s nothing wrong with any one change initiative. Hybrid work had to happen in the wake of COVID, DEIBA is absolutely necessary, and a lot of tech programs will genuinely be helpful for employees going forward. The problem is the tsunami of transformation the last few years have brought and how they’ve flooded every office up to people’s knees. So, what’s the solution?

…Less Change?

Your first instinct might be to pull back the reins on making big moves, but that’s not necessarily the right idea. You don’t want to miss the next big industry shift – anyone who switched right back to in-person work in 2021 for the sake of normalcy probably regrets it.

Instead, be more discerning about what workplace transformations you want to make. The number one way to do that is by letting necessity be the mother of invention, so to speak. Don’t introduce a new piece of tech because you read a couple articles about it, introduce it because your team absolutely needs it. 

For instance, if your employees are veterans of their field and are running operations smoothly, investing in a Learning Management System won’t do anything more than mildly irritate them and waste their time. Instead, look for signs that some employees need to know more about what they’re doing, or if there’s a change in something like safety standards that requires a formal update. Even better than simply looking for signs, though, is…

Asking Your Team

It always boils down to this, doesn’t it? Before a change initiative, you should use a survey to learn what your employees are interested in, and why, and how, and when. If you’ve found something like a new payroll system, you can ask your team if they’re interested in it or if they’d rather shoot it down. 

Then, once they express support for a new piece of change, don’t just toss it to them and make them deal with it themselves – sit down with them as a group and figure out how they’d like to implement it. Sometimes there’s a conflict of timing, and sometimes there’s just something they’d like to customize or leave out. Your team wants to be involved, and they’ll be much more satisfied with change when they’ve had a hand in it.

Always prioritize two way discussion over one way, for the sake of employee engagement and overall productivity. We know change has been overwhelming, but make this last “change” to the way you “change” and your office will change for the better. Phew.

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