25Jul, 2017

Communicating Change to Employees: Overcoming “Fear of the Unknown”

public relations, Communicating Change to Employees: Overcoming “Fear of the Unknown”-Public Relations Portal and Communications Business News Indonesia

By: Amanda Putri – PR Consultant of Fortune PR


Changes in a normal thing for all businesses. Technology, globalization, evolving customer behaviors, and many other factors are creating a highly dynamic business environment in which companies must constantly adapt.

You may find it necessary to change how your unit operates to accommodate changing unit priorities, initiating new programs, conducting layoffs, enhancing organizational effectiveness, or addressing budget reductions. Communication is important when trying to raise the level of understanding in your organization. Without understanding, your employees can resist change due to the fear of the unknown. Therefore, communicating internal changes to employees is not an easy job. To do so, you need to create a communication plan.

The most important element in any change process is a well-planned and well-executed communication plan. Poor communication raises suspicions that you are hiding something, causes rumors and misconceptions. Recently, we have seen several companies in Indonesia dealing with layoffs and restructuration. Companies such as Freeport Indonesia laid off 178 employees. Also, journalists from several business units from MNC Group also got laid off earlier this month.

Changes like these can be one of the most difficult tasks you may face as a leader. Understanding how the process works will prepare you for any layoffs that your unit must initiate. Adequate planning and communication will have a significant effect on the employees being laid off, the remaining staff, and on clients who work with your employees. As soon as you become aware of a planned organizational change, you should ask yourself three things. First, who needs to know? Second, when will they need to know? Third, how will they find out?

Once you’ve answered those questions, you’re ready to establish a communication plan. According to a research done by AON Hewitt in 2013, a communication plan should include the goals of the change initiative, the rationale and importance of the change, the role of that group in the change process, the impact on team members, and what resources will be allocated to the change.

Announcements and briefings regarding the changes should be conducted face-to-face. You can inform your employees at town halls and departmental meetings, and also followed up in written form to confirm the information and reduce the potential for information distortion. Communication should be ongoing throughout the transition with accurate information constantly flowing, mainly to those directly affected by changes. All the announcements and briefings regarding the changes should be done immediately by the leaders to all employees as a way to prevent false rumors to spread out.


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