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The role of HR in Change Management

The role of HR in Change Management

It can be said that the only constant is change, and that’s certainly true in business. 

Organisations face change every day – some externally, such as the pandemic or new trading relationships with neighboring companies, and some are driven from within, designed to improve processes, productivity and profitability too. 

Change will be felt by most stakeholders, and the role of managing and facilitating that change is increasingly placed at the door of people leaders and HR teams. 

Before we look at the role HR specifically plays, let’s first take a look at what change actually looks like for organisations. 

Organisational change

The change experienced by organisations varies in magnitude and, as noted above, where that change is coming from too. 

Some more common internal examples include:

  • The merging or acquisition of another company 
  • Internal promotions or new management 
  • New flexible working arrangements 
  • Adoption of new technology 
  • New processes, from manufacturing to customer service 

And recent external examples are:

  • Pandemics
  • Economic uncertainty 
  • Updates to employment law (such as auto-enrolment pensions) 
  • The environment 
  • Actions of competitors 

HR has a leading role to play in helping to plan, execute and, in some cases mitigate, the processes that follow.  

The role of HR as the facilitator of change 

Human resources, and people leaders more broadly, play a key part in the facilitation of any change within an organisation as it’s their prerogative to ensure employee happiness, engagement, and productivity – and any change a workforce experience has the ability to both positively and negatively impact all three. 

The role of HR in these events typically focuses on procedure and communication: why is this change happening, how does it affect what we currently do as an organisation and workforce, what changes do we need to implement to accommodate the change, and how can we best communicate the what and why of the change taking place to colleagues? 

And the contributions HR can play to the successful implementation and adoption of the planned change are vital too. 

These include:

Legal alignment 

Any updates to the way in which employees are expected to work. This could be related to pay, conditions or procedures. Employees are expected to comply with the local labour laws in the country in which that workforce resides. 

HR’s critical role in this aspect is to ensure that the changes being implemented do comply with the law, or make suggestions as to updates that need to happen before a transition can take place.

Internal communication 

People are often resistant to change, and clear internal communications are a critical factor in ensuring that employees know why something is happening, how it supports the organisation’s long-term strategy, their role in the change, and how it can impact/benefit them. 

This is a key part of ‘bringing people with you’, especially during larger periods of transition, such as a new work-from-home policy or a merger with another company. 

Nurturing culture

HR lead the way in fostering the sort of culture that helps an organisation to thrive, and any period of change can have a big impact on the culture that’s been curated. 

This was especially true during the pandemic as workforces went remote en masse, leaving HR and people leaders with the challenge of translating an in-office workplace culture to the online world. 

Measuring the impact 

You can’t improve what you don’t measure, and you can’t measure the ROI of a new initiative without understanding how it’s impacted your people. 

HR has a core role in understanding what employees are thinking and how they’re feeling. Ongoing feedback, employee evaluations and pulse surveys are critical tools to unlocking the true impact of change and any outcomes – both negative and positive – that arise from it. 

Be better equipped to manage change 

Organisations know that how well they can adapt to periods of change and challenges in the future will dictate their success. Therefore, building the capacity for change within the organisation itself not only futureproofs and builds resilience, but also increases the likelihood of successful implementation and adoption of new ideas and ways of working. 

Download now: Change management: a business case for change (link)

At CML, we enable organisations to go further, together, by developing internal networks of change leaders from ethnic backgrounds to be both better prepared for tomorrow’s challenges, whilst reaping the benefits of bringing diversity and inclusion to the forefront of change and transformational decision-making processes. 

Our consultancy helps organisations to establish a network of confident change leaders whilst growing a more inclusive leadership team. 

Learn more about what we do, and what we can help you to achieve, right here.

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