Driven by crisis, by new technology, a reaction to internal or external pressures, or just change-for-the- sake-of-change, it hardly needs to be said that there is an increase in the rate of change in the world of commerce and industry. Yet organisations will only reap the rewards of change when it is implemented successfully at the level of their individual employees, thereby retaining the organisation’s sense of identity and unique values, along with a culture of commitment and performance. Management teams that fail to plan for the human side of change often find themselves wondering why their well thought-out plans have failed.
EAPA-SA board member Radhi Vandayar says, “We have now surpassed the Third industrial revolution which used electronics and information technology to automate production. Now a Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is building on the Third, and is characterised by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres. According to Salim Ismail in his book Exponential Organisation, the Fourth and distinct Industrial Revolution embraces velocity, scope, and systems impact. The speed of current breakthroughs has no historical precedent. When compared with previous industrial revolutions, 4IR is evolving at an exponential rather than a linear pace. Moreover, it is disrupting almost every industry in every country. And the breadth and depth of these changes herald the transformation of entire systems of production, management, and governance. Therefore all industries and all organisations need to think futuristically and prepare themselves and their employees.”
Radhi Vandayar, Marketing Portfolio Holder on the EAPA-SA Board, has been a board member for 8 years and has served in various portfolios. She also works at ICAS as the Strategic Learning & Development Division and was previously the General Manager for the Client Services, a department. As a service provider ICAS engages over 500 companies on behavioural risk issues and have dealt with hundreds of change management interventions across various industries.
The benefit of having an Employee Assistance Programme in change
During times of change it is essential to consider and integrate work health and safety systems into the change process in order to monitor and maintain the wellbeing of employees. When change is supported through consultation and effective communication, it is received more positively by workers and can actually improve health and productivity. In contrast, when change is not well managed, it can lead to psychological distress, poor health outcomes and a decrease in productivity. Vandayar says “EAPs provide both proactive interventions (for example, workshops to build the resilience of the employees and management) as well as serving as a safety net for employees struggling with the process and requiring counselling, or managers needing coaching on how to deal with difficult people management issues like conflict.”
8 WAYS TO COMMUNICATE CHANGE TO EMPLOYEES
You will gain employees’ trust if you use simple, straightforward language and are completely transparent about what is changing and why.
2. Consider the individual impact of the change
For example, changes which affect the structure of remuneration packages often strike a personal chord with employees. It could be that a medical aid product changes which, at grass-roots, affects employees with small children. Or the organisation might be implementing a compulsory retirement product that affects take-home salary.
3. Communicate to employees what is in it for them
Explain the benefits of the change and what employees will get from it. If there’s no upside, then say so, and communicate what the organisation will do to make the change as smooth as possible.
4. Explain how the change will take place
Employees feel reassured and are more easily able to get on board when expectations are set and the organisation paint’s a clear picture of what is going to happen and when. It is important to sure to set expectations by explaining the process so that employees can clearly see the road ahead.
5. Tell employees what is expected of them
It is essential to outline what needs to be done – and when. The action plan is what people are typically looking for at the end of a communication regarding change. Consider the communication source and channels
6. Communication regarding change is generally best delivered from the top of the organisation. Develop a cascading messaging strategy that starts with your CEO and empowers directors and middle management to discuss the change in more detail with their teams. Use multiple message platforms and repeat important concepts to drive and reinforce behaviour change.
7. Pay special attention to target employees
During organisational change it is particularly important to customise and target messages to meet the needs of the different employee groups within your organisation. Give careful thought to whether specific employees are more affected by the change.
8. Open two-way communication channels
The change communication needs to be two-way. It is not top down only – it is also bottom- up. Employees and managers are not captives of the change effort. Rather, they are active contributors and will shape its implementation through open communication and ongoing feedback. EAP managers create two-way communication channels where employees can ask questions, express their concerns and get answers.
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EAPA-SA Board Member: President-Elect
Radhi is a passionate people engagement professional that owns a training and coaching consultancy. She is also currently an MBA mentor/academic tutor at Henley business school for their MBA students. Then recently she was elected to the post of President Elect of the EAPA-SA Board. However she has served on the board for the last 11 years in various portfolios like Research and development, Marketing and Egoli Chapter Chairperson. She is passionate about people development and therefore works within the Human capital space as a consultant in Employee wellness and has done so for the last 15 years. Her previous position at ICAS as Strategic Learning & Development Manager exposed her to a number of industries that developed her vast experience in people engagement and wellbeing interventions.