Workers who believe their employer manages change effectively are substantially more likely to be engaged and productive, new research shows.
Right Management's Restructuring for Growth survey of more than 28,000 employees across 15 countries has found that in companies where change is managed poorly, 94 per cent of employees are not engaged and 51 per cent believe productivity is suffering.
However, in companies with effective change management, only 40 per cent of employees are not engaged and just 3 per cent feel there are issues with productivity.
The bad news is that almost one in two (49%) Australian and New Zealand employees doubt their senior management team's ability to respond to external pressures (54% globally).
Just 45 per cent believe senior leaders implement change effectively, compared to 42 per cent globally, and 54 per cent feel that management is keeping them informed of what's happening, compared to 50 per cent globally.
Right Management's general manager of Australia & New Zealand, Bridget Beattie, says the results provide some clear lessons for leaders facing a restructure.
"Restructuring is a complex issue with make-or-break implications for a company. It's relatively easy to reduce headcount but much harder to avoid a consequent slide in productivity, customer loyalty and profits. Ultimately, a successful restructure or downsizing depends on the engagement and motivation of those who remain in the team."
She says the link between engagement and profitability is now widely accepted by corporate Australia, but in the current climate, it's at risk of falling off the agenda.
"Employee engagement has been a focus for many companies in recent years as they struggled to attract and retain talent. However, as tough times move the focus from retention to restructuring, it's crucial that these lessons are not forgotten for the sake of short-term cost reduction. Often, the financial implications of a poorly run change program may not be realised until six-to-18 months down the track," she says.
Right Management advocates a phased process for restructuring, she says, in order to avoid a slide in profits or performance.
"The planning stage is for developing a strategy that seeks to identify and then retain the skills and capability the company needs. The implementation phase must be based on clear timelines and accountabilities, and provide support for line managers who are leading their teams through the change. A clear process for providing career transition support is also crucial."
The next step is to focus on engaging employees after the restructure.
Beattie advises: "The leadership team needs to be active and visible to employees, and put in place initiatives to re-engage those who remain. People and performance management systems must also be used to monitor the effect of the change, so that management can keep a close eye on progress and respond when it's needed.
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