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10 Reasons You Need to Focus on the People Side of Change – More Than Ever Before!

People side of change

People like me have been banging on for eons about the need to focus on the people side of change.

But that drum is now getting louder.

The reason is that the landscape has changed.

Whereas in the past change was episodic and the management of people through that change performed in a linear process, change is now constant, complex, unpredictable, uncertain and erratic. As a result change is delivered in rapid increments through an iterative process to meet changing demands.

The management of the people side of change has to operate at the same speed and cadence as the delivery of change.

Failure to do so can have dire consequences.

So what are the top 10 reasons to focus on the people side of change?

  1. Disruption

We are facing more and more disruption as the speed of change increases. Disruption is being driven by increasing demand from customers and consumers, increased competition and rapidly changing technologies, which are driving the business to continually evolve to meet those demands and embrace the opportunities they are presented with.

Without a focus on the people side of change, fatigue will soon set in which will have an adverse impact on the health and safety of the workforce, and a reduction in productivity.

  1. Resilience

The big focus we need to have is to stop talking about resistance to change and start talking about resilience to change.

When change is constant we need a workforce that accepts that condition and says ‘Bring it on!’

Our workforce needs to be like a field sports team. All the players embrace constant change. It is their norm. Each game they play is different. The ground is different, the pitch is different, the opposition is different, the supporters are different, the tactics are different and the position they play can be different. Even the position they play during the game can change and if red cards are raised, the numbers on each team could change.

Source: Phildate –

We need to focus on building resilience so that our workforce is game ready.

  1. Engagement

Gallup reported on its internal research back in 2013. It stated that in Australia:

  • 24% of the workforce are engaged
  • 60% of the workforce are not engaged
  • 16% of the workforce are actively disengaged

The report also stated that the disengagement is costing the Australian economy around $54.8 billion a year.

Actively disengaged employees are not only noton board but are activelyworking against the business objectives.

Psychosocial research by Safe Work Australia (November 2016) has also established a correlation between the actively disengaged, and depression, further supports the need to focus on the people side of change.

The research also stated:

“Relative to workers with high engagement, workers with low engagement have approximately 12 per cent more sick days per month and an average performance loss of 8 per cent, costing employers $4796 per annum.

  1. Retention

Leading on from having a disengaged workforce is the need to retain talent. If we can’t retain our talent because they are disengaged then we will lose our competitive advantage and become irrelevant.

Once again the need for focus on people comes down to the bottom line.

Workplace Infopresents the following calculation. If you can reduce attrition from 10% to 5%, you can save over $2.5 million per year!

“Consider the following sample calculation. A business with 500 employees can expect to have 50 resignations per year. Latest Average Weekly Earnings (AWE) figures issued by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (for November 2015) record AWE for full-time employees of $1,499.30. Adding 30% to this for the cost of employee benefits and on-costs amounts to $449.79, giving a total cost of $1,949.09.

Assuming turnover cost to be a year’s total remuneration for each employee, total annual cost of turnover for this business is $1,949.09 x 52 weeks x 50 employees. That’s a total of $5,067,634 per year. So a retention strategy that was able to reduce employee resignations from 10% to 5% per year would save this business over $2.5 million per year, less the costs of implementing the strategy.”

  1. Attraction

Right up there with the need to retain talent is the need to attract talent. If we are not focusing on the people side of change and have a disengagement, fatigued and fragile workforce, we will not attract the talent we need to be innovative, creative, experimental and ahead of the competition.

An organisation with a disengaged workforce will soon be known as such and this will be amplified through social media. Not only does this impact brand but also the ability to attract the right talent.

Today’s candidates are well connected to each other.

The cost and barriers to reaching out and finding great talent have been removed through the advent of enabling technologies for all organisations. The focus for competitive advantage will be agility and quality.

Agility is the speed at which talent can be acquired which is paramount when change is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. It could be hard to foresee the skills that are going to be needed.

Quality is the focus on getting the right people for the organisation. We need people who are resilient to constant change and embrace it. We need innovators and collaborators. But we also need people who are a cultural ‘fit’.

  1. Well-being

Organisations need a healthy (body and mind) workforce if they are to succeed in volatile, complex, uncertain and ambiguous times.

In 2017, Metlife’s employee benefits study revealed:

“Four out of the top five health concerns for employees are mental health
related — and yet Australian employers typically underservice these issues in their benefits offering. Only a small proportion of employers recognise work-life balance, depression and stress as important health issues for staff. “

Having healthy employees leads to higher productivity and job satisfaction.

“Employees who felt their health was excellent or very good were much more likely to have higher feelings of satisfaction towards their work. By broadening benefits that include health and wellness programs, employers can influence positive employee emotions towards working.”

Organisations have to recognise what it means for people when change is constant and put in place programs that support them and assist them to become resilient.

  1. Customer satisfaction

Employee engagement is key to customer satisfaction and loyalty. Engaged employees are champions of the organisation’s brand and understand that satisfied and loyal customers become an extended army of brand advocates.

It doesn’t matter what role the employee plays – their engagement and resulting customer satisfaction plays out.

Less errors and improved product quality; faster and more responsive support; customer empathy and engagement; are all results of employee engagement leading to customer satisfaction.

As Richard Branson said:

“If you look after your staff, they’ll look after your customers. It’s that simple.”

  1. Decision-making

If an organisation is to thrive, let alone survive, in a world of constant and complex change and rapidly respond to shifting conditions, they need to focus on delegating the decision making to where it is best suited in the organisation.

Employees need autonomy to make decision based on the real-time situation they are faced with. If a decision to discount a customer has to be escalated up the chain of management and back down again, that customer has moved on – never to return.

If the decision to purchase a critical piece of equipment in order to seize a product development opportunity has to be escalated up the chain of management and back down again, the opportunity has been lost.

Source: 4774344sean –

Decentralisation of decision-making does not mean anarchy. Employees are given guardrails or principles to guide decision making sure that is aligned with the organisational objectives.

Focus on treating the workforce as adults and allowing the people best place to make decisions make them!

  1. Innovation

Organisations thriving in this brave new world are those that innovate, create, experiment, fail fast, and in which ideation is everyone’s business.

High employee engagement leads to high levels of innovation and creativity.

In 2015, Bailey, Madden, Alfes and Fletcher reported on their research into the meaning, antecedents and outcomes of employee engagement for the International Journal of Management Reviews. Consolidating the results of 214 academic studies, a major revelation of their research was a significant link between engagement and innovative work behaviour.

Innovation is vital in the workplace today because it gives companies an edge in penetrating markets faster.

Organisations driving an innovative culture help to expand on original ideas whilst giving everyone the confidence to take a risk and have a go.

Innovation leads to innovation. We only have to look at the speed at which new models of mobile phone with leading edge new features are released to market. Innovative organisations are able to anticipate customer’s needs and get there first.

  1. People are your foundation

Your workforce is the foundation upon which your organisation is built.

Without the right people in the right place with the right support, skills and capability – the organisation will cease to exist. The world is moving too fast for those organisations to remain relevant.

It is the workforce that underpins the organisation’s success (or failure).

Source: BelleMedia –

Nurture that foundation. Make sure it is solid and resilient.  Treat your employees as you would your customers. Ensure they remain loyal, engaged, brand advocates, and treat them with the dignity and respect they deserve.


All of the above points are interrelated, highlighting the need to focus on people more than ever before.

Innovative companies attract and retain talent. Innovation drives engagement. Disengagement leads to attrition, loss of talent and inability to attract talent. A focus on physical and mental well-being helps build a resilient workforce. Employee engagement equals customer satisfaction and leads to increased innovation.

Is has been said many times that ‘people are your greatest asset’. It’s about time we acted that way!

Jason Skidmore
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