Employee perceptions are volatile just like the stock market, one year the majority of employees are perfectly happy and vote their employer ‘the best employer of choice ’, another year the same workforce could have a different story to tell.
Organizations do not operate in an island. When managing organisational change to survive an economic crisis, there are strategic decisions that leaders sometimes have to make to change the status quo in order to ensure that the business survives and thrives despite environmental uncertainties.
For example, changes in the organisational strategy to realign the business to evolving market demands and customer needs may mean that the company may have to: Re-organize itself better, also Rethink the way in which products and/or services are designed and delivered Refocus its brand and reposition itself in the market
The answers to these questions imply that new organisational initiatives may have to be implemented as fast as the demands arise, which may ♠leave little room for people to adjust to the changes at a comfortable pace.
Implications of disruptive change: Festering vulnerabilities and risks to people’s security. Insecurities and vulnerabilities leave people open to their own interpretation of what is going on and how changes could affect them. These perceptions could be positive or negative, impacting employee engagement levels.
Organisational trust is especially affected between employees and executive leadership. This is so, because the employees see their direct line managers to be in the same boat as them, i.e. having little influence and control of making the changes. When organisations change, especially during restructuring, trust is one key attributes that is said to be most affected when people are vulnerable.
According to the Change Management Consortium 2009 study referenced by the CIPD – the landing transformational change report identifies that in large, complex and geographically dispersed organisations, middle managers are critical because they are more trusted by the employees than more senior executives. Trust in the employer-employee relationship often carries with it an element of caring, as Soule (1998, p. 249) puts it, “…a positive moral responsibility”. It is also said that trust is based on common values or aims and entails the result of a judgement, i.e. employee perception.
It is said that there is a statistically significant relationship between employees’ level of trust: in the person to whom they report and
the extent to which they believe that the restructuring/organisational transformation is well managed and the extent to which they believe that the restructuring /organisational transformation will be beneficial to the company. Critical elements in managing employee perceptions:
(a) managing organisational change and
(b) the unfolding of change at the company
Why is organisational trust so important? ♠Trust in an organisation directly correlates to commitment and therefore sustainable management. ♠Employee Engagement is measured in three dimensions according to the Towers Watson’s classic model:
Rational–Belief in and support for the goals and values of the company Emotional–Sense of belonging, pride, attachment to the company Motivational–Willingness to go the extra mile; intention to stay with the company.
The above-mentioned points are key in convincing executive leadership that the focus in organisational change management should go beyond superficial efforts or just merely enabling people to understand the methodologies but to make employees part of the change so as to eliminate risks. Therefore, it is important to say that the employee perceptions and reactions to change cannot be left to chance. Planning and embedding change to achieve sustainable engagement results should be prioritized and structured.