Riding the rapids of Employee Engagement and Change Management. Four strategies to get you to the other side.

In the world of HR there are two challenges that often collide, their impact sending ripples out through an organisation, and they are not always warm and fuzzy ripples. So what happens at the intersection of staff engagement and change management? Read on to learn how you can successfully get to the other side….

Having faced both in my time I know how overwhelming it can be to be responsible for a Team that is not performing as it should, knowing that change is necessary and seeing this slow-motion car crash of low engagement and imminent change play out in front of me. I’ve also been on the other side, picking up the pieces after a change where employees felt excluded from the process, the projected gains were not being achieved and the entire difficult slog seemed like a waste of time.

“Oh shit, what do I do about that?”


So, I decided that I needed to get better at the people side of change and be actively involved in getting organisations through these processes in one piece, preferably a better piece than when they started.

Let me give you a baseline.

The latest Gallup statistics for Australia and New Zealand show that only 14% of people are engaged in their job, showing up every day with enthusiasm and the motivation to be highly productive.

You have a potential loss of 86%

This statistic shows a 10% decrease in engagement since their 2012 study so we are actually getting worse at employee engagement, but why? Gallup believes that this decrease is being driven by the level of change we are experiencing technologically and socially and the scary part of this is that change is predicted to increase.

That leaves an organization going through any sort of change with 14% of people working to make that change happen.
This must be a recipe for failure. Compare that with the statistics for Gallup’s best performing companies who have up to 70% of their employees engaged, the math’s is not difficult.

I’m a glass half full person (my previous Boss Mike used to call me a Pollyanna) so what can you do about it?

Gallup’s research supports using strengths interventions as a way of increasing employee engagement and promoting flexible working. I have used this to develop four strategies that engage Teams in change by identifying areas where they can actively contribute.

They also act as strategies for managers to facilitate the change process with their teams and can also be used by leaders to sponsor change effectively. I recently spoke about these at the National Employment Solutions Conference on the Gold Coast and had a very positive response, hopefully they will get you thinking about how you could change what you are doing to create better outcomes.

1. Take Back Some Control

When change comes it can have the effect of making us feel and act like passive observers. Getting yourself or your Team to identify what elements of the change you can have some control over shifts that. I saw this work in a team where they needed to provide continued stable leadership during and after a change and worked together to gain approval for a plan that would make this happen.

Ask where you or your Team can make some decisions that allow them to regain control in a change process?

2. Increase Understanding

During change communication is often reduced to email updates leaving managers feeling unable to provide further information and actively avoiding conversations they feel unprepared for. One of my colleagues managed this by having weekly catch ups with their Team to check in on how they were going and finding out what their concerns were. This allowed him to tailor the communication he provided for his Team by asking for the information he needed to answer the specific questions about areas that affected them.

Ask yourself how you can you increase your own level of understanding about the change and pass relevant information on to others?

3. Provide More Support

During times of change we all need some extra support especially if we are managing personal as well as professional stressors. Every workplace has existing supports like EAP but it is important that we make sure everyone knows how to access them. I worked with a HR Team that updated their EAP brochure during a change process and made sure these were available at all sites, just don’t forget to ask managers to follow in person with their Teams so that they know this is available. People don’t always read brochures.

Ask what supports are available to you, and what additional support you can build in for yourself and your Team?

4. Give Everyone A Purpose

Change brings uncertainty and questions about the value of the work we are doing in the future state. A Team I worked with earlier this year decided that to prioritise the projects that had implications for the amalgamation they were going through. This was an intentional decision to contribute to the process using their particular skills and expertise which allowed them to see the value in what they were doing and avoid overwork.

Ask what you can do to increase the sense of purpose you or your team have in the change process? What skills and experience do have that would give you purpose in

(a) the current state
(b) the transition and
(c) the future state?

Let us help you access the 86% of potential at your disposal.

This is a great start but if you want to do more contact me below or email to discuss how we can support you to boost productivity and economic gain by increasing employee engagement using the latest analytics from the global workforce.

Clare Babbage is a Prinicpal at A Human Agency, her experience spans the Government + NGO sectors in Australia, NZ and the UK. A bit of a maverick, she grows organisational capability by using her skills in facilitation and behaviour change to create new norms in Culture, Leadership + Diversity.


A Human Agency specialises in analytics and consulting in the Culture, D&I and Leadership Development spaces. If you are part of a change process and want to bring your Team along for the ride by using their skills and expertise to make the change a success check out our website or give us a call to see how we can help. Let’s make up that 86% capability loss.

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