According to Gartner, 89% of organisations are already involved in some kind of digital change or are planning to embark on technological transformation in the near future.

Nevertheless, whilst most businesses will think carefully about the tools and systems they need to adopt to facilitate this change, many will overlook the human impact that change mobilisation can have – ultimately causing them to fail.

With employee resistance listed among the primary reasons that organisational change fails, it is imperative that, when implementing any kind of change plan, companies bring their entire team on board from the outset. Employees may be faced with a steep learning curve, technical issues or reduced personal interaction – all of which can lead to a perceived loss of control. Rather than leaving people to cope with these challenges alone, addressing concerns too late along the project cycle, proactive change management measures must be taken to secure long-term success.

Why people matter

It’s important to remember that, without your team, progress wouldn’t be possible in the first place. What’s more, in an employment market where job-hopping has lost its stigma and 72% of Gen-Z-ers and millennials are open to a career change within the next twelve months, companies need to be doing all they can to hold onto their existing talent. For younger employees in particular, this means enhancing employee value proposition (EVP) through factors like ongoing training, a positive workplace culture and commitment to wellbeing.

Positive change management is key to keeping the right people

In this new era of unprecedented mobility, people are demonstrating reduced reliance on specific career roles. Positive change management is key to retaining the right people, regardless of the nature or scale of the proposed change. Engaging employees early on and creating an open, welcoming culture will mitigate the risks of change rejection, building a resilient team ready to embrace the future.

AI or me?

Another important people fact is, 83% of employees consider wellbeing to be just as important as their salary. . Despite this, employers often overlook just how much digital and organisational change can impact wellbeing by introducing stress, worry and challenge. Once again, it’s the day-to-day changes that can impact employee health, satisfaction, and willingness to stay, with the introduction of a new digital database or AI system having the potential to increase daily stress that could lead to high staff turnover. This is something that could easily be tackled through appropriate change management, introducing adequate ongoing to ease concerns. Indeed, every change matters and involving the people affected from the outset is vital.

Big technological changes are inevitable, especially given the pace at which AI is entering our world. It’s important that businesses are prepared for this to avoid losing talent. When a significant role change may be introduced because of a new technology, people may interpret this as a job stability threat. In such cases, it’s essential that you re-engage, holding active, two-sided discussions with the affected parties about their future within your company.

Consider their hopes, fears and ambitions when coming up with a mutually beneficial plan and don’t forget to discuss transferable skills. In fact, creating awareness of such skills and sideways motion prior to major shake-ups can help to boost confidence overall, increasing the likelihood that people still feel valued and choose to stay when digital tools change their world.

The change management spectrum

Organisational change comes in various forms, be it digital or non-digital, major, or minor. The one thing that all change has in common, however, is the potential to be seen as a threat. To mitigate these people-based risks, companies must adopt a people-centric approach to change management. Where do you start?

Step 1: Assessing workforce readiness

People-centric change begins with knowing your audience. Use satisfaction surveys to gauge how ready your workforce is for a particular change, analysing your organisational culture carefully.

Think about how well previous changes worked. If things fell flat, you’ll need to restore trust before guiding people through another change journey. If, on the other hand, it all went smoothly, you’re likely ready for the next step.

Wherever you are, avoid pushing for too much change too soon, as this could result in burnout and change saturation.

Step 2: The psychological aspects of change

Considering the psychological aspects of change is just as important as addressing tangible outcomes like efficiency, security, and finance. However, business leaders will often, inadvertently, bypass psychological impacts in their plans for change implementation. For instance, training sessions may be delivered too far in advance, with long delays between initial workshops and actual system use. This can result in employees forgetting what they learnt and feeling overwhelmed and stressed. Similarly, training must meet employees where they already are. Over-reliance on jargon and technical language is unlikely to result in buy-in or engagement.

It’s all a matter of inspiring security and confidence. Employees’ fear of new technologies can easily make them revert to old processes, impacting your organisation’s overall performance. As such, training must be timely, consistent, and planned more carefully around implementation. Likewise, staff should have access to ongoing, post-change support, with feedback being listened to and taken on board to ensure that all bases are covered.

Step 3: Building relationships based on trust

Engaging employees in the change process and valuing their input fosters a sense of being part of the change rather than victims of it. Strong relationships established prior to the change or digital transformation will enhance receptivity, as trust and rapport have already been created.

Good change management is essentially all about fostering trust and mutual respect through a positive culture.

Head of Digital Adoption at Embridge Consulting

With a background in human resources, Wendy's passion lies in supporting people through digital change. Having taken a specialised interested in organisation development which recognises the need to place people and organisations at the very heart of everything we do, Wendy began a career successful career in change management.

Her wealth of experience, underpinned by positive ambitions for the improvement of the people experience and engagement characterises Wendy's approach to change management: if the people are supported, the organisation will truly benefit.