Image: iStockphoto/fizkes

Issues occur when there are frequent or significant organizational changes; employees may struggle if they do not understand the need for change or how it will affect them in their roles. While contemplating and implementing a change, it will relieve employee stress if you include them in the planning process, encourage them to participate, and let them know that you care about the effect on their role.

These five tips can help make change easier for your employees.

1. Create a controlled culture of urgency

Creating urgency in advance can help avoid reaching an actual point of urgency later. Getting the jump on discussions around anticipated changes lets employees know what problems the organization may be facing and helps them plan better before sudden problems arise.

2. Clearly communicate planned changes as soon as possible

Planning and input are key. Make sure to plan changes and get input from essential stakeholders or employees to avoid the shock of sudden unforeseen changes. Instead of just announcing changes after the fact, discuss plans for change with employees in advance, when appropriate. Find out what key employees are thinking and observe their verbal and non-verbal reactions. Solicit feedback, questions, and concerns, and share the benefits of any anticipated changes. The feedback you receive can be vital to final decisions and buy-in.

3. Allow employees to participate in the change process

The best way to get and keep employee buy-in is to encourage participation in the change process wherever and whenever possible. Being involved in the change process gives employees a sense of ownership and promotes a more committed attitude to an environment of change. Involvement can mean decision input, tasks, oversight, review, analysis, or other activities. Employees are more likely to not only be more receptive to the changes but also embrace a culture of change going forward.

SEE: Change control management: 10 critical steps (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

4. Recognize the impact of employees on changes

Change is not a one-sided consideration. Companies sometimes forget that change does not just impact employees and their lives–employees can also have an impact on anticipated changes. The news of impending changes means employees who are overloaded with work or have family-related concerns can complicate the timing of changes. If a change is not time-sensitive, it may be best to delay rather than force employees to undergo unnecessary stress at a time when they are already undergoing a difficult time.

5. Let employees know they matter

Many people find work-related changes to be overwhelming, particularly if they are sudden.. Changes can appear to be threatening when it comes to an employee’s job. When a change is introduced to employees, many questions may arise. They may not be thinking about what is best for the company and instead, thinking about their paycheck and the effect on their family. This is normal, and it is your role as a leader to let your employees know that you are aware of their concerns and care about the impact on them. To some, this seems like common sense and obvious, but sometimes because changes can happen fast, employee concerns aren’t always top of mind.

The bottom line

Your employees have a tremendous impact on change and are key to successful change management practices. Recognizing this fact can avoid unnecessary issues down the road.