HSM Spotlight: Leading through change fatigue

Change is hard. Between new hybrid working policies, economic crisis, re-orgs, and new technologies, your people are tired and they need support.

This exhaustion has a name, change fatigue, and it is affecting organisations around the globe. This is apparent in a recent Capiterra survey that found that 71% of employees, including 86% of those ages 16 to 24, say they are overwhelmed by the amount of change at work.

So, the million-dollar question becomes, how do we support our people, the most vital pieces of our organisations, through this accelerated pace of change?

Let’s start by asking ourselves, what exactly is change fatigue?

Change fatigue is effectively the business equivalent of ‘hitting a wall’. It’s when your people have stopped productively dealing with change, and experience feelings of being overwhelmed, burned out, and powerless within your organisation. As a result, they become resistant to change, they blatantly oppose it or drag their feet because they are tired of being asked to constantly adapt. And I think we can all agree – this is not good for them, and definitely not good for business.

But change fatigue isn’t going anywhere. In fact, if we have learned anything recently it’s that the world has a unique capability to keep throwing things at us. So, to prepare our people for what is inevitably around the corner, we need to find ways of supporting them to prevent burnout, stress, and attrition.

How can you, as a leader, help your team navigate change fatigue?

Give your people a voice. We all know that people do not respond well to change that is done to them but are much more open to change that is done with them. When considering how to manage the changing times, co-create solutions with your people. This is crucial in decreasing their resistance and allowing them to feel that they have a say in the change.

Give your people flexibility. Sometimes with large-scale organisational transformations, people can feel powerless, as if they have no control. Giving your people flexibility during times of change is crucial, because they experience this flexibility as autonomy. Which means that by giving your people as many choices as possible, you can reduce their fear and increase there engagement and buy-in.

Give your people support. Support your people in the early days of a change. Give them a little time to process, to hesitate, to ask questions, and try to understand what impact this will have on them and their working lives. Listen carefully and deeply to their concerns and provide them with tangible support such as training, tools, and access to employee networks.

At the end of the day, our people are the heart and soul of our organisations, we want to help them show up to work as their happiest, healthiest, and best selves. And that means equipping leaders with the tools and knowledge to thrive in an era of constant change.