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Combat Change Fatigue by Prioritization and Careful Messaging

How much change can my employees handle without becoming fatigued or even worse, burnout?

According to research by Kotter International, up to 70% of organizational changes fail. The problem isn’t resistance to change employees but ineffective change management.
Business leaders often don’t consider the many changes happening simultaneously within their company and assume that their change effort is the only one affecting employees.
Employees can become overwhelmed by multiple changes. This can lead to change fatigue, which can lead to decreased productivity, increased errors and burnout, as well as turnover.
This article will provide three tips to combat change fatigue and increase your chances of success in your change efforts.
These tips are also summarized in a downloadable infographic. Make sure to keep a copy of this infographic with you!
What is a Change Initiative?
Change initiative is a broad term that encompasses a variety of activities.
Modifications can be as simple as minor modifications or as large-scale, transformative business initiatives. The extent to which employees are affected by change efforts depends on many factors, including the pace of the change and the severity and number of concurrent changes at the organization.
3 tips to combat change fatigue
1. Do not underestimate the amount of bandwidth needed to make changes happen
Problem: Trying to make change seem like “business as usual” while expecting employees to continue working at their normal pace and learn new procedures.
This can lead to change fatigue, which can cause stress, decreased work performance, and higher errors.
Research shows that people only have three hours of peak cognitive performance per day. This is when people are most productive and can focus on and perform role-specific tasks.
People experience change, particularly when they are able to change their learned patterns and behaviors (i.e. the way they work), which can reduce their cognitive capacity.
“Dealing With Change Consumes the Already Finite Bandwidth People Have Available to Their Work… When the limit is reached, it is called change fatigue.”
Gartner research VP Elise Olding

(Source; full report available to Gartner clients

The solution: Aggressive prioritization
Recognize the time and effort required for change and offloadwork by your employees so that you can account for it.
People take an average of 66 days to establish a new habit. It takes two to three months for employees to become familiar with new procedures and incorporate them into their work routines.
If employees adopt and accept the new approach, a dip in productivity will pay off in the long-term.
2. Remember, communication is more than just telling. It involves listening.
Problem: Trying to dictate when and how employees should change, and seeing communication as a one-way event.
This can lead to lower morale and employee motivation. Employees who aren’t engaged in their work are less productive.
Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplacereport found that only 13% of employees believe their organization’s leadership communicates effectively with the rest of the organisation.
Effective communication creates understanding. Ineffective communication can lead to resistance.
Employees won’t get on board if they don’t know why or where they will be going, or if they have unrealistic expectations about the journey.
The solution: Careful messaging
Make time to understand why you are experiencing the change