<i>Dear Workforce</i> How Do We Ease Stress Associated With a Major Organizational Change?
May 4, 2006
Dear Pressure Is Mounting: The immediate challenge is to prepare your workforce for a marathon, not a sprint. To ensure that your organization is ready for the challenge, and to sustain productivity along with team morale, consider five basic steps before ramping up. 1. Use workshops to help employees vent. Start running workshops that allow participants to acknowledge and vent about the past year's trials as well as present and future uncertainties and anxieties. Such hands-on and how-to programs facilitate problem-solving and allow people to let go of the past while building motivation and morale. These workshops are especially effective when all levels of the department or multiple departments in a division or in the organization participate. 2. Don't tackle everything at once. These workshops not only identify stress and transitional barriers, they also help you broadly formulate problem-solving objectives and action plans. Appoint a post-workshop committee, composed of differing personnel levels and department representatives, to set priorities. Resist trying to tackle too many problems at once. Target three or four key action items with objectives and specific timelines, then determine who is responsible and accountable. 3. Build organization-wide teams. Outside experts can also help departments and teams integrate and implement workshop ideas and strategies. Depending on the nature of the working relationships between departments, cross-sectional team building may be wise. 4. Build/restore trust. If there's considerable mistrust or a breakdown in communication between employees and managers, consider having your CEO, head of human resources or safety director conduct monthly meetings with a broad segment of employees and frontline supervisors. Hopefully, this will aid in healing any breaches of trust. Such a forum may also be useful for bringing new employees into the organizational culture. 5. Prevent burnout. When ramping up, it might seem like you have no recourse but for employees to work overtime and/or on weekends for an undefined period of time. In the long run, however, this invites burnout, excessive operational errors, dysfunction, conflict and perhaps even sabotage. Set a ceiling on the number of overtime hours your employees can work. Come up with a rotational system that fairly and wisely distributes the overtime and weekend work. SOURCE: Mark Gorkin, the Stress Doc, Washington, June 13, 2005. LEARN MORE:Employees Are Close to the Breaking Point The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.