Organisational changes can be a major contributing factor to a decrease in employee engagement if businesses fail to recognise the impact of the unsettling nature of a changing business.

Change management is very much a part of modern day business culture, where many organisations have to adapt to evolving market conditions. Strategy is a far more fluid concept in modern commerce; and business models are constantly being reviewed to achieve maximum bottom line benefit.

A fluid strategy is a recipe for continuous change; keeping your employees engaged in a constant cycle of change is a key objective of businesses and is a major factor in commercial success.

Change can come in many guises, and it may affect different stakeholders and groups of employees at different times. There are a number of key rules that I try and follow when managing any kind of change project which all have the same fundamental objective; to keep people engaged.

The way in which I approach change is to look at it as a journey. By understanding what you want to achieve through change, you can map out the impact on your stakeholders. From an employee perspective, it is critical that you try and put yourself in the mind set of your people if you want them to buy into your rationale.

In my experience, to keep employees engaged during change, you need to sell in the journey, and make the change process a two way conversation.

Translating that into a communications output is simple: a clear, concise communications plan which maps out the critical impacts of the change process is a starting point. Within that plan, it is important that you schedule regular communications updates from stakeholders through a variety of channels. The final stage is to ensure regular opportunities to feedback; both through face2face and electronic channels.

Employees will be more open to accepting change if they feel they have a voice in the decision making process; being open and explaining the rationale behind decisions are effective tools in keeping people engaged. What people will want to see is that concerns and opinions are being listened to, that employers understand and have considered employee feeling.

Some effective methods to use during a change project include regular Q&A sessions and road shows, webcasts and films, blogs, and touch point surveys.

Employee engagement can probably be defined as the relationship between the ‘business’ and its ‘people’. A critical barrier to engagement can be isolated to issues of ‘trust’, and when an organisation is going through change employees need to ‘trust’ the decision making process if they are to buy into it.

By keeping employees informed at each step of the journey, by giving employees a voice, and by understanding and empathising with the employee position you are creating a strong platform for ‘trust’ and keeping your people engaged during a period of change.

Related blog: Building the foundations for culture change

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