USI in January, SNRs took effect April, VFH and major JSA contractual updates in July, our industry has had little time to breathe between updates. This has led many across industry and likely in your team feeling the effects of change fatigue.
Change fatigue affects organisations who have to deal with a number of changes in rapid or concurrent succession. The cumulative effect of continual and overlapping change can leave staff increasingly stressed, burnt out, and overwhelmed. This can have a dramatic flow on effect to staff retention, quality of service and organisational success.
While change fatigue affects every individual differently, there are ways that we can help reduce the affects for the organisation and help our staff through these high stress periods.
We all have different styles of communication and sometimes in an effort to help people understand why we are making changes (very important to include the why with the what and how), we risk overwhelming them with all the information. When explaining changes to staff, cater for the different behaviours, some staff will want less and some more. When communicating to large groups about changes offer a BLUF (Bottom line up front) with the two to three key points, then supporting documentation for those who want more. This way key information is distributed without making staff read through a five page email, but the information is available for those who are more detail oriented.
One person can, but will generally struggle to make a difference on their own. We often forget that Managers are often hit harder through these initiatives as they are expected to cope through the change themselves and additionally support staff. Helping them understand and recognise the symptoms and effects of change management in themselves, then providing resources for stress management and will help multiply your organisations ability to deal with the changes and support staff at all levels.
Change fatigue has the potential to affect organisational culture, especially during sustained and long term changes such as the ones our industry has gone through over the last year. When additionally, you factor in internal change management which may be occurring (moving to a new delivery model, IT system, Student Management System, or all of the above?) you may find that it hits small pockets of staff more. By using feedback models, one on ones or pulse check surveys, organisations can identify those groups most in need and put in place strategies to assist those staff. By targeting the groups that need it most, your organisational culture stands a better chance of enduring without any long term negative effects.
While we have little choice in relation to when and how some changes need to be implemented within our organisations when it comes to legislative requirements, internal change initiatives are generally somewhat flexible to timeframes. Before undertaking major change initiatives, consider the current climate and potential affects of change initiatives. Then use the planning process to prepare staff, consult and set the timetable to allow for those adjustments and ideally work with groups that may be more change oriented (sales and marketing for example may be more adaptable than compliance or trainers).
My last word of advice, is to talk to you staff and check in. One on ones are a great way to provide staff with the opportunity to feel heard, this is not an open forum for complaints but when correctly structured, giving staff an outlet to feel heard is a great mechanism for generating a positive and loyal company culture. At the end of the day, we want our staff to want to come to work and we get better organisational results when they do. So before you rush out to announce this great new change, check in, take stock and proceed with consideration.