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Managing change

Advisory booklet - how to manage change Change is usually characterised by a desire to improve things whether it's cash flow, products or processes. Change can be either planned or unplanned, and could affect individuals or the organisation. Major changes can mean mergers, redundancies, re-structuring or new working practises. Minor change can mean anything from introduction of new training courses or company policies to travel arrangements.

Although every situation is unique and every organisation is different there are common elements to managing most change

  • plan for change - although some change comes out of the blue it is better to have to review a plan then to have no plan at all
  • provide leadership - this is particularly important during times of uncertainty when employees will need reassurance
  • keep up-to-date with the law - legislation covering redundancies for transfer of undertakings (TUPE)

Changes needs to be managed pro-actively for some of the following reasons

  • economic survival - developing new products or retraining staff
  • accountability - effective change management gives a chance to explain, to internal and external customers what you are going to do and why
  • organisational effectiveness - rushed unplannedchange can damage the confidence of staff and customers
  • employment relations - badly managed change can cause long lasting resentment and ill feeling.

Download the pdf icon Advisory booklet - How to manage change [10Mb].

Questions and answers

What can cause change?

Both internal and external pressures can cause a change, external pressures could be changes in global markets, or technology or even government legislations. Internal pressures could be the need to review policies and procedures, accommodation issues or pay structures.

Should I consult with employees over changes?

Often employers need to consult with employees due to a legal requirement during periods of major change such as redundancies, mergers or transfer of undertakings. This can help to maintain performance and productivity by improving employee engagement. Engaged employees are likely to adapt better to change and have a easier emotional journey because they know they will be consulted regularly and given some say in the decision making process and, because they identify with the future success of the organisation.

What will my employees want to know about a change?

When you talk to your employees about any change to the organisation and their working lives they will often want:

  • to question any plans and the reason for them
  • their concerns will be listened to by senior managers
  • reassurance about how the changes will affect them personally
  • clear direction and leadership

What feelings do people experience during periods of change?

Change can affect the way people feel emotionally, mentally and physically. Although change is generally seen as negative, this may not always be the case, for example during a period of reorganisation employees may fell their jobs are under threat, but they may also feel they have the opportunity to achieve greater career fulfilment. Employee will go though a range of emotions while change is taking place ranging from anxiety, happiness, fear, though to depression and gradually there will be acceptance before the final stage - moving forward.

Acas Model Workplace

Free and easy to use, the Acas Model Workplace helps you to check how good your organisation is at people management - from recruitment to performance management.

Did you know?

Acas run practical training courses to equip managers, supervisors and HR professionals with the necessary skills to deal with employment relations issues and to create more productive workplace environments.

Click to view related Acas training and course dates in your area for:

Managing change

Redundancy and restructuring


Improving supervisor skills

Contracts of employment

Workshops, projects and business solutions

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