Organizational change can be difficult. It can also take a real toll on employees.
Employee engagement training experts warn that change can threaten the commitment of workers to their jobs and to their companies. If only we could see inside the hearts and minds of our workforce to be able to predict how serious and how long-lasting potential disengagement could be. Could we then determine if they were a serious flight risk during times of change?
Healthy organizations are characterized by highly motivated employees, good morale, strong productivity, quality output, respectful relationships, smoothly working teams and systems and processes that support desired cultural behaviors.
The Threat of Unwanted or Poorly Introduced Change
Organizations threatened by unwanted or poorly introduced change are characterized by just the opposite — sagging morale, lowered commitment, sub-standard performance, slowed productivity, and so on. Just like participants learn in our change management simulation, no company wants to be in this situation.
Companies need to keep tabs on their turnover as a gauge of how satisfied and engaged their employees are…especially when a change initiative is underway. Of course, the measure of turnover is a lagging indicator and tells leaders a bit too late that something is wrong. Recent studies, however, point toward two leading indicators of employees’ intention to leave during periods of organizational change.
First we need to understand two concepts of individual and group psychology…
In all relationships there is an unwritten psychological contract. This is the unstated agreement about how we expect to treat one another. In a company, this contract is more like the established corporate culture which includes the day-to-day norms of behavior regarding how work gets done. When this so-called contract is broken, whether between individuals or between an employee and their company, there is an emotional reaction. Individuals can feel betrayed and employees can question whether the company deserves their hard work and loyalty.
Functional teams within a company develop their own organizational culture as a subset of the overall corporate culture. Team members share a kind of mental model that guides the way they work together. Team members may have very different ideas but they have a shared way of working together that is similar enough for them to reach a common goal.
So how do these concepts affect employee engagement?
If either the individual relational contract or the team’s shared mental model is significantly upset by the change, there is a heightened risk that workers will leave. Workers are well aware that things aren’t working the “way they should” and are progressively unhappy on the job. Employee engagement training professionals need to acknowledge that change must be handled delicately…with the workers’ individual sense of balance and team well being uppermost in mind.
To learn more, download The Top 10 Most Powerful Ways to Boost Employee Engagement