How Change Management in business affects mental health

Change Management Safety Forward

Post COVID many big businesses are going through a huge period of change and this can really impact on stress levels. Any change in an organisation or to an employee’s role has the potential to cause stress, but this stress can be overwhelming when an employee is also dealing with mental health issues. Due to the last year of immense stress and adjustment to individuals and companies, the impact of change management in business affects mental health and well being on all levels.

In some organisations, constant change is of course the norm but this can have a negative impact on the psychological health of some employees. Applying a psychological health and safety lens to change management is a worthwhile investment to support employee performance, loyalty, and buy-in for the changes. While these approaches can benefit any employee, for those who have mental health issues, this can be the difference between an extremely difficult transition and one that involves a manageable level of adjustment.

Many of the physical health issues associated with change management and organisational change are linked to mental health, and both can trigger workplace stress. During organisational change, managers face challenges such as allocating resources, managing overlap of operations, and ensuring employees understand processes and procedures whilst also ensuring that staff maintain focus and remain resilient. Managers should therefore be coached in strategies to manage mental health in the workplace – focusing on managing and remediating stress. And we must not forget that stress in these changes apply to all staff at varying levels.

Once mental health issues have been recognised, managers might take actions to remediate such as reallocating work and reducing workloads. However, the biggest impact is made by developing a culture that creates a more positive workplace environment. To do this, organisations must enable their managers to:

  • Provide increased and individualised support
  • Give extra training, coaching and mentoring
  • Give effective feedback
  • Enable self-referral to internal support
  • Provide a safe place for time out and access to support
  • Encourage their people to build their resilience through emotional intelligence training

Openly discuss potential pros and cons of the proposed changes. When managers understand the fears or concerns expressed by employees and take steps to address them or make resources available, employees are much more likely to feel heard and part of the change process. If possible, jointly look for solutions with the employees who will be affected without pretending the challenges do not exist or try to minimise them.

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