Poor organisational change management


Step 1: Learn about poor organisational change management

What is poor organisational change management?

Poor organisational change management refers to organisational changes that are poorly planned, communicated, managed, or supported.

Change within an organisation or business happens every day.

Some examples of changes in the workplace include:

  • Changes to someone's working conditions – e.g. a change of role, change of shift roster or the introduction of new technology or software, policy and procedure updates.
  • Changes to the team or the broader business - e.g. mergers, acquisitions, restructures or downsizing.

How does poor organisational change management affect your business?

Managing and communicating change well can reduce the likelihood of an employee's stress response. If change isn’t managed well, this may lead to a decrease in productivity, reduced morale, increased absences and even mental injury claims.

Planning and consulting with the right people from the beginning to the end will set your workplace up for success. In doing so, you create opportunities to reduce stress, conflict and staff turnover. Identify and work closely with employees at all levels, and from all areas of your organisation that could be impacted by change.

What are your rights and responsibilities at work?

Employers must provide and maintain a workplace that is safe and free from risks to health, including psychological health, so far as is reasonably practicable.

Employees have a responsibility to take reasonable care of their own health and safety in the workplace, and the health and safety of others. They must also cooperate with employers to create a safe environment.

Follow the risk management process below to manage risks associated with poor organisational change management.

Step 2: Consult your employees

Consultation can be done in a number of ways. Depending on your workplace, it can be as simple as casually walking around your workplace having a conversation, or as formal as setting up a health and safety committee.

Good consultation has lots of benefits – it leads to better decision making and greater cooperation and trust between employers and employees, who get a better understanding of each other's views.

Consultation isn't just good practice though, it's actually a legal requirement for employers. Employers must consult with employees including health and safety representatives (if any), about matters that directly affect, or are likely to directly affect, their health and safety, so far as is reasonably practicable. This includes identifying whether poor organisational change management may be a hazard at the workplace, and working out how to eliminate or reduce the risk of it occurring. At a minimum, consultation must involve sharing information about any health and safety issues, giving employees reasonable opportunity to share their views on those issues, and taking those views into consideration.

Learn about your rights and responsibilities, as well as how best to consult

Step 3: Identify hazards and risks

A 'hazard' is anything that has the potential to cause harm to a person. Think of hazards like 'situations' or 'things' in the workplace that can hurt someone, either physically or mentally, and risk is the potential of the harm actually happening.

For example, a cable on the floor is a physical hazard. The risk is being physically injured from tripping on that cable. The same applies to hazards that affect our mental health – these are known as psychosocial hazards.

Poor organisational change management is an example of a psychosocial hazard. Exposure to poor organisational change management can increase the risk to psychological health. When risks associated with poor organisational change management are not effectively managed, this may lead to or exacerbate psychological injuries.

Examples of poor organisational change management:

  • change is poorly planned – e.g. there is no clear goal and planning is disorganised
  • key information about the change is poorly communicated to workers
  • there is not enough practical or emotional support for those affected by change – e.g. training to ensure worker is able to perform new task
  • there is insufficient consultation – e.g. affected parties aren't consulted on changes

Often multiple hazards can be present at the same time and can combine to increase the risk of harm occurring. For example, poor organisational change management, high job demands, and poor support from colleagues or supervisors can combine to increase the risk of harm.

Step 4: Assess the risks

Assess the risk of poor organisational change management occurring

A risk assessment will help you understand the risks to your employees' health and safety, and how to prioritise your efforts to manage them.

It is good practice to identify hazards, both individually and together, that are creating risks to health and safety. Once you have identified the hazards, you can assess the risk of them occurring.

Risk assessment tips

Step 5: Control the risks

A 'control' is simply a term that means 'ways to manage an issue'. These are things that you can put in place to eliminate and reduce risks. The list could be endless, but it's really just about taking action, so far as is reasonably practicable, to manage the risks associated with poor organisational change management.

Risk control measures should address communication before and during a change process, ensuring effective consultation and participation take place and ensuring job roles are revised should any changes occur. Feedback is critical.

Here are some ways that employers can take action (or 'implement a control') to create a safe workplace.

Remember to measure the effectiveness of existing controls to see if they’re working and look for new ways to control the risks.

Step 6: Share, review and improve

A safe and mentally healthy workplace needs ongoing commitment and engagement. To improve your change management processes look back at how change was managed in the past, and reflect on the experience.

You want to check whether the controls you've implemented are still relevant and effective. By sharing the outcomes of these reviews, as well as suggestions and recommendations for improvements, you can keep the conversation going. This will continue to build trust and cooperation between you and your employees. Consultation must be undertaken before making any changes to the workplace, things used at the workplace, or the conduct of work at the workplace, and these changes should be communicated to your employees.

More information

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Disclaimer: The WorkWell Toolkit provides general information only. Please consider your specific circumstances, needs and seek appropriate professional advice.