Strategies for effectively communicating change to employees can make a huge difference to morale, stability and productivity. Change is a common part of life and work, but too often, employees are left with more questions than answers about operational shifts.
Whether it’s management or process changes, restructuring or a big move, employees may feel disoriented, distracted and distressed if changes aren’t communicated well. As a small business owner or manager, you can keep your employees in the know with these communication best practices.
1. Explain Why It’s Happening
Simply saying there’s a change isn’t enough. Your employees need to know why changes are happening so they’re less likely to resist them. When explaining the reason for a shift, focus on how it will benefit the business in the future but don’t forget to explain how it will help employees individually, too.
2. Communicate Regularly
Keep employees in the loop each step of the way, explaining what’s next and why. Talk about how and when each step will take place. Establish an open-door policy so employees can ask their questions. In addition, choose the best method of communication, whether it’s email for smaller changes or an all-hands meeting for a large change, which is followed by email updates.
3. Practice Empathy
Put yourself in your employees’ shoes. When explaining an upcoming change, consider how the employees will feel. This might involve chatting with employees in different demographics and asking for honest assessments. By understanding these concerns, you can frame communication around how a change will help—not hinder—employees across departments.
4. Focus on the Core Mission
All companies should have a core mission that defines their goals. This can be as simple as a commitment to integrity, doing good, or inspiring creativity. Whatever the mission, any big changes should promote it. Whether you’re moving to a new office or changing leadership, explain how this shift will help the company better pursue its mission.
5. Explain How a Problem Is Being Solved
Transparency is important, and that includes being open about past problems and how the change is going to make things right. If a business is changing policies because the old one was hurting customer service, for example, then be honest about that. Share a couple of bad reviews, talk about how it hurt business, and explain how the new policy will turn things around.
6. Involve Employees
Get employees involved in implementing the change if it makes sense. By being involved, they’ll likely feel a sense of ownership and control rather than stress and uncertainty. If you’re changing a core value, recognize employees who embody that value at the next company function. If you’re moving offices, create teams to oversee different aspects of the move, such as a team that’s in charge of meals on moving day.
7. Celebrate Each Step
Don’t let change be a negative process. Instead, celebrate each step. If it’s an office move, commemorate choosing a new location with banners and cocktails. Make packing day a party by catering meals and offering flex hours. If it’s a leadership change, make the new manager feel welcome by decorating their desk, or sending them and their team on a special outing.
Effectively communicating change to employees involves more than just announcing that something big is on the horizon. Not only should you try to get employees involved, but you must remember to communicate regularly and celebrate each step. And keep in mind, even you have room to grow. Keep the lines of communication open and ask for employee feedback so that the next time a big change is unveiled, it’s welcomed with open arms.
With United Concordia Dental’s Employer Toolkit, running your small business gets a whole lot easier. From expert guidance on benefits to educational newsletters that you can share with your staff, this resource has everything you’ll need to keep your office informed and in control of their health.