How to fight ‘change fatigue’

After a prolonged period of ongoing economic uncertainty and workplace disruption, a key challenge for business leaders is how to overcome ‘change fatigue’ when introducing new initiatives. 

To support employees overwhelmed by ongoing alterations to working practices, corporate policy shifts and technology evolution, here are three practical ways to push fight back against change overload. 

In fast-paced markets, business leaders need to be able to make high-impact decisions confidently to keep their agencies out-performing their competitors and allow their teams to win consistently. 

But each new decision comes with an element of change to the business, and the bigger the potential impact of a new policy, structure or technology investment, the bigger the change involved.

As the pace of change across the recruitment and staffing sector continues to accelerate – from hybrid working to fast-moving markets – many leaders face the very real threat of ‘change fatigue’ enveloping their teams, exhausted from so many new initiatives served up back to back in recent months. 

Worn down by a constant up-ending of the status quo, employees eventually harden to new programs, failing to engage with change leaders or sponsors, and displaying lack of buy-in with overall objectives. 

So, how can agency owners and senior management teams push through critical programs and technology rollouts in a workplace that’s resisting ‘yet more’ change?

1.Try a rebrand

Taking a leaf out of the marketing department’s book, leaders can achieve a lot by simply reducing the frequency with which the word ‘change’ appears across the business. 

Instead of by-the-book reference to ‘change’ programs and ‘change’ management, new terminology can be introduced to create buzz and excitement around the change, focusing on the outcomes it will create rather than the process of moving from State A to State B. 

For most businesses, the process itself isn’t the exciting part – and certainly not the rationale driving the change. It’s a bridge to a destination, and selling the destination rather than the journey can go a long way to altering perceptions.

Language around ‘innovation’ programs, ‘upgrades’ or ‘business improvement’ can enable simple but powerful mindset switches that help fend off fatigue. 

2. Normalise change

An alternate approach for businesses in the midst of multiple change initiatives is to attack the problem at the root – and normalise change as the hallmark of an evolving, dynamic business.

Much of the resistance to change is anchored in an unrealistic expectation that a business will someday achieve a ‘finished state’ – when all change is complete, and ways of working will remain static. No more training, no more things to learn. 

Changing the narrative around change to switch the framing from an unwelcome (but temporary) disruption to an exciting, positive state of flux driven by opportunity and a fast-evolving business environment can help teams see the need to get comfortable with change for the long term. 

Some of the world’s most vibrant, successful (and admired) companies live daily with a pace of change that would make the average employee’s head spin!

3. Nail your change management strategy  

The reality is that ‘change’ is not going away. There is no golden future where every system, process and technology platform in the organisation has been perfected. 

Change is a permanent business reality, especially in technology-driven markets where vast commercial swings depend on having the most up-to-date toolkit, and giving sales and sourcing teams access to the market’s most advanced software stack. 

Investing in the development of a robust, detailed and flexible change management strategy equips leadership teams with a long-term playbook to effectively implement new initiatives, from technology rollouts to new working policies or management frameworks. 

The ‘right’ way to introduce and push through change is different from every company and team, which makes experimentation and continual learning a must in refining both strategy and tactics. 

Prepared with the right structures, stakeholder roles and communications frameworks, however, businesses can face change with confidence, even in the most turbulent of times. 

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