Change fatigue and practical tips to address it

Several organizations began their digital transformation journeys before the Covid19 pandemic struck globally. Several of them had to change their original plans and expedite their timelines to catchup and be relevant and continue to be leaders. All of a sudden, all over the world, everyone was talking about digital products. Can you imagine the amount of effort this took for the employees in those organizations? The amount of changes the rest of the company had to suddenly adapt to? It is therefore not a surprise that second half of 2021 saw what we now know as The Great Resignation. 

We all have been through such situations when too much change too quickly drains us and saps us of energy and enthusiasm. But lack of enthusiasm literally shows in our demeanor and we can’t afford it to be seen, lest we’re considered dull and lagging behind. Too many changes in company policies, tasks and initiatives leaves the employees emotionally and physically drained. After all, there is a limit to how much one can tolerate in a short time. As a result, he and his team members have lost all energy to delve into anything new that comes upon them.  

Causes of Change Fatigue

Organizations that lack a short-term and long-term strategy and a clearly defined operating plan fall prey to frequent changes.

As the top management is indecisive of any concrete plan of action, anything and everything is taken up for trial. This leaves the team confused, apathetic and uninspired. What brings about this lack of enthusiasm and a general sense of sluggishness is the core fact that people love consistency in ideas and tasks.
Change that comes too soon and too often disturbs, distracts and creates resistance among people. A logical conclusion of one task or project is required before you jump on to the next one and the one after that. 

Agreed that workplaces require one to work on multiple projects and assignments simultaneously, people are left clueless about the way ahead if these encounter changes too much. Working on too many disparate projects at once while none seem anywhere near completion also leaves people similarly drained and tired. That is because change required one to reorient themselves which takes some time. Not allowing people the required reasonable time to cope with change leads to more confusion and fatigue which then reflects in a general sense of aloofness and disinterest. 

8 Factors That Cause Change Fatigue

People can adopt minor changes even on a daily level, but major ones need some time to be fully accepted.
Some factors that lead to change fatigue include:

  1. Change in business models
  2. Frequent change in location
  3. Introduction of new technology at a fast pace
  4. Political and regulatory changes
  5. Company policies
  6. Frequent change in leadership and resultant change in styles
  7. Management decisions and initiatives
  8. Change in roles and responsibilities that don’t quite feel aligned with skills and capabilities

Identifying Change Fatigue

Managers who are in regular and close contact with teams can immediately identify when change fatigue sets in. 

A sense of disinterest to start something new, apathy towards work and people, sluggishness, negative comments, visible tiredness or health issues among a large number of people, vocal complaints about minor issues and frequent tempers all prove clear sign of people experiencing change fatigue. 

Consequences Of Change Fatigue

When company’s policy changes frequently, it reflects in a total lack of semblance among people and the work that they do. 

People with change fatigue lack energy and productivity drops. 

Frequent bouts of anger or frustration affects employee relations. 

Fatigued employees look at excuses to take leaves and stay away from the workplace as much as possible. It may even result in people leaving the job altogether. 

When the morale erodes, nothing can possibly be done to pep up the employees. 

11 Practical tips to address change fatigue

Change cannot be avoided, but its impact can be gauged and mitigated through some conscious practices:

  1. Companies and management must adopt strong work policies that are built on sharp focus on the core business and not deviate from it. 
  2. Regular feedback from employees, line managers and supervisors keeps management abreast about the sense of confidence among the staff
  3. Employee engagement activities, one to one sessions with managers helps gain first hand information about the ground realities. 
  4. When change is inevitable, take all people in confidence and keep communication clear and regular. People accept change better when they are an integral part of its decision making and execution. Showing the positive outcomes of the change is also effective. 
  5. Identify the impact any change would have before setting it into motion.
  6. It helps to bring in small change at a time rather than a big shock. People hate extremes- both no change and too much change are dangerous. 
  7. Offer adequate time and counseling for employees who feel overwhelmed by change. Not all are cut out to adopt and adapt quickly. 
  8. Orienting staff about change management at regular intervals helps to keep them prepared for any subsequent change. 
  9. Companies that are seen to actively help its people during times of change benefit in the long run. Provide all resources, training and support during change so that people are comfortable in the whole process. Simply pushing people leaves them resisting the change.
  10. Never compare employees for their ability to adapt to change. Every person has his own way and pace of accepting change. Though training and assistance can help people to a large extent, forcing change only makes matters worse. 
  11. Make platforms available for people to share and express their feelings with others. Knowing that you’re not the only one to experience this sense of being overwhelmed brings in a sense of belonging and does not make them feel isolated. 

Change has always been a driver of progress but too much change can adversely impact productivity and employee morale and hence needs to be properly planned. 

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