by Dawn-Marie Turner, PhD
Are your employees too tired to change?
“We need to be constantly changing.”
The need to be continuously evolving is a business necessity. The problem is most organizations are simply not set up for continuous change. Continuous change does not mean bombarding your employees with one change after another. This approach has led to a growing and costly problem—change fatigue.
Change fatigue is associated with increased stress, exhaustion, and decreased organizational commitment. In my book “Launch Lead Live”, I outline the importance of commitment to the success of your change efforts. Left unchecked change fatigue leads to burn out, and burned out employees won’t contribute to your organization.
Change fatigue can be described as passive resignation. It is this passive resignation that can make change fatigue more of problem than the “resistance to change” many leaders talk about.
Why? Because change fatigue means that you have neither the energy to defend the current state nor the energy to move through a change process.
The Impact of Change Fatigue on Your Business
Change fatigue can have a big impact on both your organization’s ability to change and its general operation.
The exhaustion that comes with change fatigue leads to a general sense of apathy toward change. One manager described to me how his employees just didn’t seem to think when performing their job. When I asked about it, he described employees who did what they were asked, but that’s all. They just didn’t seem to care and there was a general sloppiness.When apathy sets in, you begin to lose the productivity, the innovation, and creativity of the people affected.
As the change fatigue continues employees disengage. Disengagement is when your employees come to work, but their commitment, contribution, and value doesn’t. An engaged employee comes to work asking, “How can I make a difference?” or, “How can I contribute?”
A disengaged employee comes to work asking, “What will I get out of it?” Or, “Is it time to go home yet?”
The constant barrage of change initiatives raises the risk of creating an organization of change survivors. Jeanie Daniel Duck describes change survivors as the people in your organization that have become very good at moving through a change without really changing anything.
Eventually as change fatigue continues your organization is unable to change or sustain the changes it does implement. The more your organization fails at change, the more difficult it is for you to respond and adapt to your business environment.
Six Actions to Reduce Change Fatigue
References available upon request.