While many organizations realize their immediate need for change, research indicates that more than 70% of failed transformations fail due to people issues2. For this reason, program change managers must examine the change adoption journey for employees in a hybrid setup with greater care in the post-COVID-19 era. Each step of the adoption journey requires careful planning and innovation to develop tailored change activities to mitigate adoption risk and engage employees. Novel strategies, paired with clear expectations of an impacted employee base and a shared understanding across the organization, will pave the way for adoption to drive home success.
Infosys Consulting’s extensive experience rolling out successful global change programs across industries and markets has demonstrated the importance of focusing on employees in change adoption. We have identified five proven adoption strategies to engage employees: Communication, Collaboration, Empowerment, Empathy, and Nudges.
Too much information leads to employee dissonance. So, an essential early step in the adoption journey is planning and executing consistent, relevant messaging. It must paint a clear picture for employees of what the organization aims to achieve, why it is crucial, and how an individual can contribute, whether remote or in office. Moreover, as the program continues, communication must be explicit on what employees need to do in the new world.
Establishing a communication plan that mitigates change fatigue requires a detailed analysis of the target audience(s) and communication channels. The below exhibit showcases five engaging communication methods that allow the program change managers to experiment and involve the impacted employees and the program sponsors in the communication process. All these engagement tactics can be activated virtually as well as in person. With a clear, compelling message and a thoughtful communication plan, employees across locations learn about the value of the change.
It is also easy for remote and office users to disconnect in a hybrid environment, whether virtual or partially virtual. To further encourage adoption among impacted employees, program change managers can create a sense of belonging. Facilitating collaborative conversations between the program team and impacted employees enables the program change managers to set the program’s tone. ‘Collaboration’ in this case means giving people a voice in the change journey, thereby mitigating resistance.
More specifically, they can establish collaboration through a digital cadence of interactions in design workshops, virtual awareness sessions, testing, design of training material, participation in business readiness activities, etc. These interactions help employees feel connected to the change and like they are part of the process, especially when working in hybrid setups. By taking these actions, the project change manager can help employees feel heard, even when all their requests may not be met.
Empowering users is even more essential when distributed globally and working in remote or hybrid setups. Program change managers need to clearly understand the ground realities and fine-tune the interventions to the various personas. Different personas may be required for office, remote, or hybrid workers. It is imperative to provide employees with clarity on their role and the tasks they need to focus on, allowing their contribution in various project phases. All of this will give a sense of ownership to the impacted employees, building commitment and involvement from the ground up, rather than pushing change down from above.
To establish successful adoption, the change managers need to help the project team view (and feel) the impact of the change from the employee’s perspective. This is where empathy comes into play as a means of mitigating resistance.
Currently, the world is going through unique challenges, and all of us are adjusting to them. As program change managers, the first step to empathy is acknowledging the human and emotional responses to change. This approach builds trust with the impacted employees, which is now more needed than ever, and helps change managers develop adoption interventions more impactful.
Nudging is a practice used by behavioral economists to drive change3. A nudge is an alternate option presented to the individual without restricting their freedom. Designing system-built nudges (as depicted in the case on the left) to reinforce new ways of working is an effective way to drive desired behaviors especially, under hybrid work culture. A nudge can work much better than a push when used intelligently and empathetically. Change managers use nudges to prompt and remind users in the moment of performing a new task. By thinking ahead and leveraging technology in this way, change managers ensure that the most helpful interventions occur at the right time at the individual level. This drives incremental and immediately actionable behaviors, which can be scaled quickly.
As we all try to adapt to a constantly changing world, guiding the human experience of change has become a business imperative. In 2020, remote work drastically changed the way employees work within an organization. And 2021 is going to see the shift towards hybrid work environments. The hybrid comes with its challenges in terms of reach, representation of true diversity at the office, consistent culture, etc. At the same time, change fatigue is also becoming a reality. Today, program change managers have a unique opportunity to revisit traditional change methodologies and update them to better address employee needs during the adoption journey. The five practices go a long way towards ensuring sustained adoption of new systems and processes. Thoughtful implementation of the five practices of Communication, Collaboration, Empowerment, Empathy, and Nudges have proven to be critical differentiators in driving the successful adoption of change.
Head Change Management Global capability center – GSK
Diana leads the change management capabilities for GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) at their Global Capability Center, Bangalore. She has experience of 14 years across Pharma, Retail & CPG industries. She is a Prosci® certified change practitioner with strong process and domain knowledge. She has been extensively working on largescale transformation programs leading the organization change globally across diverse cultures and stakeholders. Her core expertise lies in the areas of adoption, metrics-driven change management, designing & activating the change interventions, nudges and digital change management. With diverse experience in consulting, retail marketing and consumer engagement, Diana is passionate about user behaviors and engagement.
Principal, Talent &Organization Practice
With a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior, Maryam is passionate about helping clients in cultural change/leadership behaviors via solving complex challenges in IT Agile transformation and Cloud/IT uplift projects via designing and implementing innovative cultural change strategies. She leverages 13 years of international OD/OE body of knowledge/expertise to lead and to drive change across diverse teams, various industries and global cultures. Innovation is the key to every step of her work.