Some workplace changes stir up excitement, such as that cool new piece of technology or a tyrant boss's sudden resignation. Other changes can seem revolutionary, like a corporate reorganization or global acquisition that makes the marketplace feel like a fast-paced jungle. Other examples of adapting to change in the workplace can fall somewhere in between a major crisis and a minor irritation, such as switching cubicle locations or upgrading the company's software. Successful leaders recognize that employees have a better chance of embracing workplace change when they can see the benefits behind those office adjustments.
Today's marketplace tools are a long way from yesterday's 5 ½-inch diskettes and dumb terminals. The technological revolution over the past several decades has drastically changed office behaviors. Employees often check emails, voice messages and texts around the clock, even during non-working hours. This ongoing release of new communication methods can leave some staff members feeling that they are working longer hours and drowning in a tide of electronic information. For employees who adapt quickly to newer devices, rapid changes allow co-workers to have more access to each other 24/7. Technologies also allow greater collaboration across geographic regions because employees easily connect with co-workers and clients in other states, continents and time zones.
Employees in the current job market represent several different generations. Each group has its own set of dynamics, which is in contrast with past generations that often shared more similarities than differences, according to “Forbes.” For example, Millenials, who were born between 1977 and 1997, have grown up with computerized technology and crave the next wave of innovations. Some Traditionalists, who were born before 1948, and Baby Boomers, who were born prior to 1964, had to exert extra effort to become computer literate when automation spread through the workplace. As workers live and work longer, this melting-pot phenomenon among age groups will increase.
Employers introduced significant changes into the workplace when they permitted workers to set up offices inside their homes. Supporters endorse these alternative work arrangements by saying telecommuting can boost productivity and help companies retain employees who are younger and have children. But the work world is changing again as several large employers — including Yahoo and Bank of America — rescinded these options and made staff members go back to traditional office settings, reports “The Boston Globe.'' The rationale is that working at home does not build a strong spirit of collaboration.
One of the most significant transformations in the business arena has been the rate of change itself. Leaders and human resources professionals place high priority on change management principles so they can build a company culture that accepts transformation as being normal, regardless of whether change involves opening offices overseas or migrating to a newer version of Microsoft Windows. Change management requires senior management sponsorship, employee involvement and an overall acceptance that any shakeup most likely will be complicated and nerve-racking at first.
- Forbes: Working with Five Generations in the Workplace
- Career-Intelligence: Dealing with Generational Differences in the Workplace
- The Boston Globe: Some Hit Yahoo’s Work-At-Home Change
- Computerworld: Q&A: Real-Life Examples of Successful Change in the Workplace
- Practical-Management-Skills: What is Change Management?
- Business Performance: Why Change Programs Fail