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Employee engagement “at heart” of change management

13 October 2008

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Employee engagement lies at the heart of good change management, according to new advice on how to manage change in the public sector.

Public sector recruitment specialists Badenoch & Clark today (13 October 2008) released a six-point checklist to help employers manage change without morale and productivity suffering.

These key points are:

  • Share thinking: ensure that employees are informed as early as possible to highlight the importance of their involvement.
  • Map the change: if staff can see how the change will unfold over time they will understand the benefits more fully.
  • Hit the ground running: it is crucial that communications are engaging.
  • See the bigger picture: change at departmental level must be targeted at all other affected areas of the business, in order for them to adjust accordingly.
  • Consultation: when relocation means staff are likely to leave, it’s important to consult with them to ensure they are highly employable.
  • Agents for change: choose delegates from the workforce to relay the message to staff, who may more readily accept an explanation from someone on the ground.

Nicola Linkleter, Executive Director of Badenoch & Clark’s public sector division, said: “Change is now a continuous part of modern business activity. That doesn’t mean to say it’s any easier to swallow for a lot of people, and organisations have tripped up in the past when it comes to facilitating change.

“Employee engagement lies at the heart of meeting this challenge. Openly communicating with staff can be vital in reducing the loss of talent that often results from organisational change.

“Explaining change and all the thinking that has gone into it is vital. That isn’t to say the decision-making process should be opened up to one and all, but presenting any change in as much context as possible will make it all the smoother when it comes to implementation. Although this is sometimes daunting, it saves untold distress later down the line.

“This must then be matched with a proactive approach by the organisation in terms of enabling staff to survive the change or move on successfully if redundancy is the issue. Without a constant cycle of honesty and support where staff are concerned, the benefits brought by any change could become outweighed.”

Badenoch & Clark

Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

“Interesting little piece with some good points made. I’d completely agree that a change programme can only be really successful when the individuals impacted by it are fully folded in. I’ve seen too many attempts by businesses to force through change from “the top” without reference to the people on the ground actually running the processes. They’ve mostly been costly failures. I particularly liked the checklist points that talked about communicating the planned change and making its drivers, consequences and benefits overt. Where I’d take issue is that there doesn’t seem to be a recognised means of doing this in a fully joined-up manner (a checklist is fine but hardly sufficient). My experience in working with a range of businesses is that they’re very bad at this, with a few rare islands of  excellence. Usually the whole communications effort is rather ad hoc, cobbled together by more-or-less articulate managers using Microsoft Project and PowerPoint, and usually expressed in biz-speak. What’s needed is a proper model for doing this. Anyone got one?” – Dr Richard Williams, location withheld

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