Energising a change fatigued workforce is one of the hardest things to do in change management. It is so much more than team building events and celebrations and more and more communication. Most change communication focuses on information about what changes will occur, when, by whom and so on. This doesn’t inspire anyone, fails to energise and above all it creates apprehension about the unknown and the impact on employees. After all the most important take away from all change communication for employees is what’s in it for me. And despite the fact that you may have organised road shows, CEO blogs, email notices, staff meetings about the changes; until an employee experiences that change for them it is still the unknown because they have not had to deal with it.
So let’s examine some of the lost cost but highly effective strategies you can implement to energise your workforce and inspire them to do their best at work by looking at a few case studies.
In this instance we are looking at a car manufacturing plant. Whilst this is an old story about energising employees the principles remain the same. The Saturn Motor Company in the USA was after many years coming out of, yes you guessed it budget cuts, a poor economy, sliding car sales. Employees were proud of the company they worked for, but were fatigued and tired of hearing of new visions for the company and strategic reviews. The company decided to hold a three day event for customers and staff and they called it “The Saturn Homecoming.” The rest of the story is incredible, not only for the way it energised employees but also the fact that thousands of customers drove all over America to learn more about how their car was made and because they felt connected. I have attached a link to a brief video overview; the story is one to be seen to be believed.
Another completely different case study is one I worked on focussed on energising a workforce again going through budget cuts and changes in strategic direction. The organisation was moving to new premises from old tired offices, the IT systems were changing completely as was the way employees would be managing the customer experience. And we needed to do this quickly with nine new competitors in one year. We brought the new office design and fit out to employees, in their current work environment so they could touch and feel the difference. Then we developed a simulated team environment, with computer screens trying to explain the different workflows and impact on the customer experience. This is very different from taking people out of their office environment to a room on another floor to show what the new office will look like and how we will work as teams. People need to be able to compare, and most importantly experience the difference.
Now I know some of you will say with regard to the Saturn story that good times don’t last, absolutely, there will be economic booms and busts as there will be changes in CEO’s and the focus of executive teams. But this topic is how to deal with the here and now, how to energise a workforce and connect the journey and the vision of the organisation.
Please let me know your experiences of energising change fatigued employees and what has worked.