Keep Employees Informed to Make Organizational Transitions Smoother
By Sandra Thebaud
Nearly every organization will experience transitions at times. Transitions could be mergers, acquisitions, force reductions, restructurings or a number of other events.
These events can understandably be stressful on the employees of the organization, as well as executives and managers.
As a human resources manager, you are a vital part of the transitions process. You are expected to be there for the employees who are nervous about the changes. You are also expected to ease the transition for management and executives. You have a big job ahead of you!
At one point in the business world, the role of human resources in a transition was to clean up after the transition was over. Human resources managers had to find positions for employees in a merger, let employees go in a force reduction and change roles in a restructuring.
Fortunately, today most organizations realize that human resources should be consulted and utilized from the very beginning of a transition. The expertise of a human resources manager can be invaluable in preparing an organization for a period of change.
Beginning when the news of a transition reaches the organization, human resources should step in to make the transition less stressful for all parties involved. The actions needed by human resources during a transition may not be the same functions that you are used to serving at all other times.
Stress management is often needed for employees who are nervous about the transition. If jobs will be eliminated or changed, it’s safe to assume that employees will need some help dealing with the changes.
Keeping them informed of any new information helps to reduce the stress of not knowing what is going to happen next.
Career counseling may also be required in some situations. When it is obvious that many jobs will be eliminated, helping future displaced employees discover their talents is an essential human resources function.
Even if jobs will not be eliminated, it may become necessary for some employees to change positions after the transition. Career counseling can help them understand where they may be happiest within your organization or another.
Morale is often a problem during transitions, especially mergers and acquisitions. Employees may be convinced that they will soon be replaced or that their positions will be eliminated. They may be suspicious of management and of the new team being brought aboard. In this situation, team-building exercises are invaluable. They can encourage employees to air their grievances or worries while affirming the team bonds.
Whenever an organization goes through a transition, it’s normal for the employees to feel unsettled and nervous about the future. You, as a human resources manager, can help them understand the process and try to calm their fears.
Keeping the lines of communication open will do wonders for keeping employees calm. Even if the news is not what they wanted to hear, most employees will be grateful for your honesty. It’s important to maintain that level of trust when going through a transition. Communicating openly and keeping employees up-to-date is essential for maintaining trust.
Your actions during a transition can help shape the future of your organization. Do your best to keep employees happy and informed and you will find that the transition goes smoothly.
Sandra Thebaud, Ph.D. is the author of The Art of Loving Life. She is also a Psychologist, former Navy Lieutenant Commander, Stress Management expert and founder of Paramount Transitions, a firm dedicated to providing quality onsite and offsite learning in the area of Stress Management. For more information visit http://www.paramounttransitions.com.