How to Adapt to Change in the Workplace

Mental Health

Group of women in a business meeting at the workplace, with the leader standing up and presenting an idea to the rest.


Not many of us are wired for change. Despite all the changes that COVID-19 brought to the workplace, many employees still find adapting to new ways challenging. For some people, the thought of changes at work makes them feel uneasy or even fearful. But there are ways to make change easier to accept.

Why is Change in the Workplace Important?

Change in workplaces can come in all different forms. Cultural change is the adoption or change of values, beliefs or behaviours amongst staff. Adopting new knowledge, technology or scientific discoveries can also change the culture of an organisation. Below are some of the reasons why organisations make changes.

Change Equals Business Survival

For some organisations, no change means no survival. Organisations are constantly facing challenges; anything from a global recession, to a new competitor down the road can impact an organisation’s profitability. As a response to these threatening situations, the organisation must review current processes and implement changes.

Change Encourages Innovation

When employees resist change, they are less likely to be innovative and creative. And if new ideas aren’t given an opportunity to be tested, there’s no room for improvement or development of new strategies and products. Opportunities such as new product or service offerings can cause significant change to an organisation.

Change Helps with Retention

Little to no changes within an organisation increases the risk of bored or burnt out employees from repetition. New projects and developments keep up the interest level and encourage staff to stay with the organisation for longer periods. 

Adapting to Change in the Workplace

While first reactions as an employee may be to resist any mention of a change, consider the possible benefits those changes may offer:

Understand the Reasons Behind the Change

Few organisations make changes just for the sake of it. Think about the changes from the perspective of management to understand why. If you aren’t sure of the reason, speak to your manager. Often knowing the background situation and expected benefits, can help you accept the change and face it positively.

Look for the Silver Lining

Employees tend to only focus on how the changes will impact them. But considering a wider perspective, will allow viewing the long-term benefits for employees and the organisation’s operations. Change often allows employees to gain new skills, stay up to date with technology, set new goals for themselves, and even be more willing to accept change in the future.

Focus on What you Can Control

Rather than worrying about what could happen or the worst-case scenario, focus on the task at hand. Continue doing your job to the best of your ability today, and if there could be anything to be concerned about, deal with it when the changes are actually implemented.

By shifting your mindset and embracing change, one may realize there’s less to worry about than you’ve been imagining. Your positive mindset will also be evident to the management team.

Why Change in the Workplace is so Hard

Many organisations have learned the hard way that change can be difficult to implement and even harder to get employees onboard with it.

All Employees are Different

Having a diverse workforce means dealing with employees that are different ages, from different cultures, and with various personality types and interests. Everyone will react to the announcement of change slightly differently; ranging from excited to fearful, from loud to silenced. Knowing how to deal with people and their responses is difficult. When management doesn’t have much experience in navigating employees through adaptations, outsourcing experts to assist in implementing change can be highly beneficial.

Jobs are Important to People

If employees aren’t showing any interest or response when big changes are announced, management should be concerned as it may be due to low engagement in their job and the organisation. We spend one third of our lives at work so it is essential for people to enjoy their work as much as possible.

Poor Past Experience

It’s part of human nature to refer to previous experiences in the workplace and use that to determine our attitude to upcoming changes. Unfortunately, not all organisations handle change well, which often leads to a decrease in the employees’ trust towards the management team. Employees who have been through one or multiple unfortunate experiences, are more likely to resist any new change even when being at a new organisation.

Cultural change within any organisation is a marathon, not a sprint; adaptation won’t happen overnight and requires preparation, consistency, and patience to cross the finish line successfully. This is exactly why it's important to make sure it's done right. Our experts can assist with a culture assessment to review the current cultural climate and suggest strategies to improve your organisation’s culture. Contact Altius Group online or call 1800 258 487 for more information.

Category: Mental Health