Employees’ Stress During the Organizational Change

Introduction

One of the most common issues that organizations face during the implementation of change is resistance from human assets. It is apparent that not all employees are always ready to configure themselves to accept drastic changes in their fields of work psychologically. Whenever a significant organizational change is implemented, the human resource function and the overall management must be compelled to develop the necessary measures to influence the positive reception of the change. However, this is not always forthcoming in organizations. The authorities may fail to identify the problems faced by the employees in the course of implementing a change.

This change may have dire implications on the individual performance of the employees and the general output levels of the company. Following this, it is important for the management to ensure that the employees are actively involved in evaluation processes to determine their level of acceptance of the change. Resistance to change among the employees is normally associated with the development of psychological stress among the affected members of an organization.

I recently had a chance to experience the stressing effect of forceful changes in the organization that I have been working for the past ten months. The experience was a learning experience, and I derived the lesson that to cope with stress in the workplace, one has to blend in with the pace of change. Self-management of stress in the workplace is the most feasible way of getting rid of change-related stress.

Personal Experience

For a long time, the company had looked into shifting from a paper-based record-keeping system to an electronic information system. The requirements of the regulatory bodies in the industry had given the companies in the industry a timeline of 17 months to implement changes in the records keeping systems. The leadership and management functions of the company had been notified of the requirements in November 2013, but they failed to take the necessary actions in time. It was after the last month to the deadline that the company installed computer systems and a customized user interface for the company.

The change was drastic, and most of the employees complained about having to handle their different tasks through the electronic system, yet they had not been trained in its use. The human resource management function received numerous complaints from the workers. It was after the employee threatened to strike that the management intervened by employing a contracting company to offer training and development programs for the employees. I was among the first employees to fully grasp how to navigate through the new information system, but I had to undergo lengthy practice sessions after the training and development program. Most of my colleagues struggled with the system for more than a month, and several of them had to quit their jobs because they could not blend into the new system.

Leadership Strategies

The management and leadership functions chose to use Lewin’s change management model to influence positive outcomes for the change. After contacting the professionals to train the human assets of the company, the management function embarked on a course to acquaint the members of the company with information on the necessity of the change. The main goal of the first stage of the change model is to ensure that the employees are aware of the need for the company to implement the changes (Sonenshein, 2010). The main challenge was that the management implemented the change before acquainting the human assets with this information.

However, after being provided with the information, most of the employees were ready to accept the change, but there was still a significant number of employees who portrayed a rebellious character toward the change. The second phase of Lewin’s change management model is the execution of the change (Cummings & Worley, 2014). This step came first in the organization, but the professional trainers ensured that the employees blended smoothly into the change. The company is currently in the third phase of the model, which entails establishing stability after the change.

Positive and Negative Results of the Change

The change attracted both positive and negative results. The company’s output levels have been increased by the application of technology in the production units. The various departments have increased their ability to handle big projects faster than before, and the company is looking at the prospects of doubling their profit margins over the current fiscal year. There is efficiency in the communication system, and the issue of missing files has been solved by the electronic information system. It is, however, clear that the drastic change was a stressful period for the employees. The change saw a turnover of seven employees in the record-keeping department.

They left the company because their positions became obsolete after the introduction of the electronic information system, and their lack of skills in handling computers would have forced them to acquire further training. During the transition period of change, more than a quarter of the workforce took medical leaves for work-related stress. It was also apparent that the performance of the majority of the human assets was lower than usual during the transition period. The company made a 33% loss in business processes.

Basic Mistakes Made

One of the basic mistakes I made was expecting someone else to reduce stress. During the change period, everybody expected the management and human resource functions to take care of the resultant stress among the employees. Everyone blamed the management function for the stress. I later realized that developing an interest in understanding the change and trying to blend into the new working environment helped me to get rid of the stress. I also played a victim during the initial period of the change (Pritchett & Pound, 2008). Everyone in the company was affected by the change, but we spent too much time blaming the management function for the negative effects that the change had on the employees.

Conclusion

Drastic changes in organizations are likely to cause adverse effects on the employees. Companies should always look into implementing changes through viable change management models. It is also appropriate for the individual employees to acquaint themselves with stress management techniques to get rid of work-related stress during the transition periods of a change process. The negative effects associated with resistance to change among the employees can be eliminated if a company prepares the employees adequately for the change. Training and development programs are an indispensable factor in the actualization of change.

My personal experience with change in the workplace revealed that the management function in a company must actively engage the employees in decision-making prior to a drastic change in the organizational processes.

References

Cummings, T., & Worley, C. (2014). Organization development and change. Boston: Cengage learning. Web.

Pritchett, P., & Pound, R. (2008). A survival guide to the stress of organizational change. Dallas: Pritchett Publishing Company. Web.

Sonenshein, S. (2010). We’re Changing—Or are we? untangling the role of progressive, regressive, and stability narratives during strategic change implementation. Academy of Management Journal, 53(3), 477-512. Web.