- The average employee's capacity to absorb change without becoming fatigued "has been cut in half" this year compared to last year, researchers at advisory firm Gartner said in an Oct. 14 statement.
- Employees are worried about their health and job security, the health of their family members and the economy, Gartner said. Organizations may need to increase employees' ability to absorb change through what the firm called an "open source" approach that focuses on how employees experience change rather than the outcomes of changed behaviors.
- Gartner said HR leaders can focus on two differentiators — trust and team cohesion — to help employees to better absorb change. Workers with high trust have an average capacity for change that is 2.6 times greater than those with low trust, the firm added, while those with strong team cohesion have 1.8 times the capacity of those with low team cohesion.
The world is rife with changes impacting every area of HR, and recent research has shown that employers may have to work to win back employee trust as companies adapt to the new landscape. Earlier this year, a survey of employees by Zenefits publication Workest found that one-fifth of respondents said they did not trust HR. In September, a report published by IBM's Institute for Business Value found evidence of divides between organizations and employees over subjects such as training and well-being. IBM said there is a "reasonable foundation for employee skepticism" as to whether employers are committed to supporting workers.
Overall, organizational culture is being eroded by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a July report by online training platform Emtrain, which found that even commonly understood behavioral norms have been impacted. For example, the company's survey of employees found an 11% drop in workers' ratings of workplace cultures as "healthy" in terms of preventing sexual harassment at work.
"The amount of change employees can absorb without fatigue – negative reactions to change such as burnout, frustration, or apathy – has plummeted at a time when more change is precisely what organizations need in order to reset," Jessica Knight, vice president in Gartner's HR practice, said in the firm's statement.
One way to earn back workers' trust, particularly in the areas of training and support, may be a renewed focus on coaching. A recent survey by performance management platform Reflektive found an 89% increase since 2018 in the number of employees who wanted formal performance conversations on at least a monthly basis. That may build off previous findings by the Human Capital Institute and the International Coach Federation that strong coaching cultures can improve an organization's ability to manage change.
Improving organizational performance is not the only incentive HR managers have to prioritize change management, however. A report earlier this year by PayScale found that change management was among the skills that had a highly positive impact on wage growth for HR professionals.