Does Change Help or Hurt Performance in the Workplace?

Changes happen in all shapes and sizes, from shifting workplaces to layoffs.
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Not a soul -- from Superman to Superwoman -- can prevent change. Your life is in a constant stage of flux, but when change comes to the workplace, it often either disrupts employee performance or takes it to new heights. How a company communicates change and what that change consists of plays a huge part in determining if workplace performance suffers or improves.

The Employer Factor

The thought of change scares many employees because they've fallen into a routine at work. Drifting away from that routine brings about unpredictability. If you don't know how change is going to affect you personally and how your job will look in the future, it's difficult to remain calm and embrace change. This is where the company plays a huge part in determining whether its workforce will adapt willingly. Knoll Workplace Research contends that a drop in performance can be avoided if a company understands what its employees want, explains why change is necessary and how employees will benefit, and provides support through the changes.

Size of Change

The more a company changes, the more potential there is that employee performance will be affected. Suppose you're sitting at work one day and you catch wind of the company's plans to expand the workplace space. There's not a whole lot changing in that scenario, aside from a few more desks and more square feet. Now imagine instead of expanding the workplace space, the company plans to restructure and reorganize. Your employer isn't necessarily cutting jobs, but it is creating new duties and positions, which means employees may have new responsibilities. That's a fairly large change to the workplace, so there's a higher chance of seeing a downward or upward swing in performance.

Reason for Change

The ideal employee wants to take her performance and the company's performance to new heights, but she's still largely driven by what she receives, such as benefits, high salary and more responsibilities. If the way in which a company changes positively impacts employees, performance might increase. If that change negatively impacts employees, performance may decrease. Consider layoffs: A company might justify cutting jobs by explaining to the remaining employees that it was the only way the company could stay in business. But this doesn't provide a whole lot of comfort or security for those employees laid off. Stressed out and lacking faith in the company, employees will likely not perform as well, according to "The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science." In contrast, suppose a company provides employees with the latest technology to help increase efficiency. The employees are rewarded and their jobs have been made easier with this change.

Coping With Change

Make a clear list of pros and cons of each change that occurs in the workplace. You might find many of your worries are worst-case scenarios or products of an overactive imagination. Use only the facts you have, not the what-ifs. If you don't have a clear picture of what the change will bring, talk to management and your co-workers. Ask for clarification and tell them your worries. Take a positive outlook toward change and recognize that all workplaces must change to keep up with the fast-paced world of business. Above all, perform at your highest level regardless of what's happening around you. You can't control change, but you can make it less likely that you'll suffer from the adverse effects if you're one of the company's highest performing employees, notes

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