Change management fails to prioritize employees

change management

Traditional change management practices are no longer suited to today’s changing work environments. They fail to engage employees in planning, underestimating them and not giving them the priority they deserve. So says O.C. Tanner, an organization dedicated to improving employee engagement, in its Global Culture Report 2024.

Organizational change is the order of the day, from changes in management structure and departmental responsibilities to the implementation of a new IT platform. However, research by O.C. Tanner reveals that only 49% of transport and logistics leaders consider their employees when deciding to make company-wide changes. And only 48% ask for employees’ opinions when changes are rolled out.

“Organizational change can have far-reaching consequences for the workforce,” says Robert Ordever, European Managing Director of O.C. Tanner. “Regardless of whether these changes are strategic, structural, technological or people-centred, if employees are not taken into account and their feedback is not sought before the change is rolled out, it is a recipe for disaster. One that could potentially lead to widespread frustration, cynicism and lack of engagement!”

Traditional change management practices are inadequate

The report makes it clear that traditional change management practices, which are often linear, top-down and process-oriented, are no longer adequate for today’s work environments. They also fail to involve employees in planning. As a result, employees are underestimated and not given the priority they deserve.

With this in mind, according to O.C. Tanner, it is also no surprise that only 52% of employees in transport and logistics felt that the organizational changes they experienced were well managed. 22% even felt they were poorly managed and the remaining 26% were neutral about how the changes were implemented.

People at the centre of change strategies

Ordever: “It is crucial that the people in an organization are at the centre of change strategies. This approach not only removes friction from change management processes, but also enhances employee well-being and contributes to a positive work culture.”

Effective change management, according to O.C. Tanner, should start with nurturing a culture where employees have a lot of trust and feel valued and appreciated. It is also important to decentralise the change management process so that managers at all levels can be involved.

In addition, regular, transparent communication is important and all employees should have a voice. When employees have a say in organizational changes, they are eight times more likely to have a sense of trust, five times more likely to have a sense of community and three times more likely to feel happy at work.

Taking employees into account drives success

Ordever adds: “The truth is that no organizational change will be effective or lasting without employee buy-in. And the sooner leaders recognize this and ensure that the people in the organization are always considered, the more successful any changes will be.”

For O.C. Tanner’s Global Culture Report 2024, data and insights were collected from more than 42,000 employees, leaders, HR professionals and executives from 27 countries worldwide, including 1,485 from the transport and logistics sector.