6 practical steps for communicating change to employees
Being an agile business is essential for growth — but it often includes changes that can slow you down and unsettle your workforce. How can you improve momentum and productivity through company transitions? Effectively communicating change to employees is key.
Perhaps your company is integrating new systems, updating processes for a hybrid workforce, rebounding from layoffs, or trying to ensure a smooth merger integration. The right change communications can help keep internal teams focused and productive.
What should you consider? Look closely at how, what, and when you communicate.
For many years, we’ve helped high-performing businesses successfully navigate major change. Here are some practical steps you can take right away.
Best practices for communicating change
1 – Be prepared to overcome resistance
When companies face major changes, you’re likely to encounter some resistance internally. That’s not because employees are trying to make your job harder. They may be stalled out by concerns fueled by uncertainty, perceived risk, job security, or lack of understanding.
Think about change from an internal team’s perspective. Create a change communications plan with various engagement strategies centered on proactively addressing concerns, to show people you’re paying attention to more than just logistics.
2 – Create a core message about the change
To build momentum for a change, you need a concise, compelling story that gets employees motivated to help make it happen. Create an easy-to-remember statement (2-3 lines is good) that highlights the benefits of the change (for employees, customers, the business), and include a call to action so people know what to do.
Make sure the core message is delivered consistently whether it’s shared in email, internal portals, or verbally in meetings. If needed, create a similar customer-facing version for use in talking points, call scripts, social media, etc.
3 – Identify an executive champion
To build buy-in for a company change, employees need to know management values it. Engage a senior leader to champion the initiative, using the core messages. Even if they aren’t involved in the daily activities, this executive champion can be a powerful voice to advocate the importance of making the change successful.
Communicating change from the top-down can help employees understand the vision for change and, at a high-level, what to expect going forward.
Your executive sponsor can spread the word in virtual town hall meetings and short video clips shared on various channels within the company.
4 – Recruit influencers
In many companies, every department or line of business has its own way of doing things. To help you manage a major change that may have company-wide impact, take a grassroots approach. Identify the opinion makers, and develop a written outreach plan to connect with a handful of those people who will have the greatest impact on whether the change will be successfully adopted.
6 Practical Steps for Communicating Change to Employees
5 – Make it easy for everyone to learn about the change
The easiest way to get employees on board is to ensure they understand why change is happening, how they can benefit, and what they need to do. Communicate early and often so people can start preparing – both mentally and logistically.
Make this information available on internal digital channels, in team meetings, even signage at the office. If appropriate, develop a training program that helps employees learn and adapt more quickly to a new initiative or system.
6 – Promote inclusivity and collaboration
Sometimes the best ideas come from unexpected places. Find ways to increase cross-functional collaboration, tap your agency partners for ideas, and more. Encouraging everyone to have a voice can be a powerful way to improve (and even speed) the transition through company changes.
You might even discover untapped talents in your teams by engaging everyone to share their strategic ideas.
Communicating change to employees — Beyond the Arc can help
Successfully communicating change to employees relies on the right messages at the right time.
Our experienced team can help you with communications strategy, content creation, channel distribution, even internal training.