Change Fatigue and What to do About it

Article Contributed by Valerie Harlow

We’re all facing many types of disruption from ongoing organizational transformation, new approaches on how work is done, economic uncertainty, and political discourse. Maybe you are seeing and hearing things like louder complaints about changes, indifference and disengagement with work/projects, burnout, resistance, negativity etc. Change fatigue is not something to discount or think it will just take care of itself. It has a huge impact on attrition which will impact your bottom line. Gartner for HR lists in its Top 5 Priorities for HR Leaders in 2023 that 43% employees who experience above-average change fatigue intend on staying compared to 74% who have low change fatigue. That 31% difference could be a big cost to an organization – not just the bottom line but also the impact on engagement, productivity, culture etc.
What can leaders do about it? Focus on moving toward an open-source change strategy and away from the traditional top down “cascading” approach. Open-source change strategies involve employees through out the process. It’s not about just telling employees what is happening or what will happen. Instead, it’s involving them from the beginning. They help co-create and are active participants in identifying, making, and crafting change decisions and outcomes. Employees own the change planning process. From there they can develop individual, or team change implementation plans. Communication becomes an open conversation vs a constant marketing message of the change and its benefits.
From an organizational perspective it’s also important to have a pulse on the amount, size and significance of change that is happening or being planned in the organization. This can help to ensure employees are able to participate early on, and it helps the overall organization mitigate any change overload or manage changes that really are not aligned strategically. This can also prevent change fatigue.
Change is constant and necessary to bring innovation, creativity and long-term growth and results. Ensuring your employees don’t burnout or become change fatigued is an important leadership responsibility.