APA: Workplace change causes employee stress, distrust and departure
- An American Psychological Association (APA) survey found that U.S.workers affected by organizational change reported chronic stress, developed distrust for their employers and said they were likely to leave their jobs. The survey of 1,500 U.S. adults included full-time, part-time and self-employed workers.
- The survey found that workers undergoing current or recent change were twice as likely (55%) to experience chronic stress compared with workers undergoing no change (22%). Workers undergoing current or recent change also were four times as likely (34%) to have physical health symptoms as workers who weren't facing any change (8%).
- Nearly a third of the respondents said that change made them think their employer had a hidden agenda (29%), that their employer's intentions differed from what was said (31%) and/or that their employer tried to cover up the real reason for change.
Change is a part of life, but it can understandably worry, frighten and even anger employees. Organizational changes, be they changes concerning specific personnel or entire departments, also create stress, which employees often internalize. To make matters worse, many employers struggle to identify mental wellness issues.
Employers can help their workforce cope with anxiety by removing as many stressors as possible. This might entail simple resolutions such as encouraging a reasonable number of work breaks throughout the day and discouraging constant office connectivity. Researchers argue that even colors and scents play a role in creating a relaxing environment.
More significant resolutions might be reducing workloads, promoting participation in a wellness program or connecting with an employee assistance program. Mindfulness training, despite the connotations the term may carry, can actually improve employees' ability to mitigate stressors.
The biggest stressor for employees can be uncertainty. The simplest cure is frequent, truthful communication. Employers have a responsibility to tell employees what change is expected, when it will likely occur and what their roles and duties will be in the process.