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Human Resources Role in Change

Human resources plays a key role in enabling for employees within the organization to support and adopt change. Human resources usually has developed and maintains strong relationships with employees throughout the organization; they are usually the “go to” people. They understand the feelings and perceptions of employees; they know what issues and challenges they face. This insight helps human resource professionals to support and facilitate change conversations with employees and share information from employees back up the ladder to leadership.

In my book on Implementing Positive Organizational Change, I share a number of best practices to facilitate change, including these two:

  • Regular and consistent communications using formal and informal channels.

Human resources can help by assisting leadership in identifying a variety of formal and informal channels to communicate on change initiatives. For example, an informal channel may be for someone to visit/meet with employees in the café or coffee area. Human resources may take on the responsibility of spending some time in the early morning or mid-day to talk with employees about the changes going on. Often formal channels get utilized but organizations forget about the value of information channels. Human resources can take on responsibility for balancing out communications by ensuring informal channels are used.

  • The use of a Stakeholder Support Committee – a group of employees from throughout the organization who support and champion change – to spread the word and communicate and engage other employees on change.

Ideally, Stakeholder Support Committees are comprised primarily of individual contributors from throughout the organization. You might also include some supervisors and mid-level managers, but it should be more heavily comprised of individual contributors. Human resources can help to organize and support Stakeholder Support Committees, participating in conversations that the Committee is having, sharing information from the change leaders, and bringing back relevant feedback from employees shared by the Committee. Human resources can also help by ensuring the Stakeholder Support Committee has access to meeting space, time to meet during the workday and access to a small budget for food & beverage and for items to promote the change such as posters or mugs.

Challenges around Adopting Change

Most all organizations going through change face challenges with employees adopting change. Trying to engage employees in change and frame change in a way that works for a variety of individuals is not easy. Those organizations that do it well understand that change must be viewed not only from the perspective of the organization but also, and maybe more importantly, from the perspective of the employees.  Human resources can assist here by focusing on the value and benefit of the change to thee employees while senior leadership focuses on the organization. Human resources, given their close connection with the employee base, can help leadership frame change in a way that works to engage employees.

Two related blog posts that you may find interesting on this subject can be found here:

Enable Employees to Adopt Change

Four Ways to Engage Remote Employees in Change

Happy Reading!

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