Category Archives: Change

The Stress Test: Most Employers Fail

Data Point Tuesday
We all know that a stressful work environment can impact employees’ mental, physical, and emotional health, as well as impact their engagement and productivity, but a new study from Monster reveals just how many employees are saying no to “sticking it out” in stressful work environments, and seeking jobs elsewhere. Monster’s international “Workplace Stress” study surveyed nearly 1,000 job seekers on the Monster database via an online survey which ran from March 12, 2014 to March 18, 2014. The study revealed that 42% of US respondents have left a job due to an overly stressful environment, these respondents stating: “I have purposely changed jobs due to a stressful work environment.” An additional 35% have contemplated changing jobs due to a stressful work environment. 42% of people have purposely changed jobs because of stress! This seems like a frightening number of people and begs the question, what are U.S organizations doing to change such work environments? Monster’s study reports that 55% of their respondents experience very stressful lives, and 57% of people experience very stressful work environments –more than half of respondents. Comparably, only 3% of respondents report experiencing no stress in their work life.

On the international front, employees in France and the UK experience the most workplace stress, with 48% (a 6% increase from US respondents) reporting that they have left a job due to stress. Employees in India are least likely to leave a job due to stress, with only 19% of respondents reporting that they have ever left a job because it was too stressful.

What exactly is stressing out the workforce? Monster’s study found that the most commonly reported workplace stressors are: supervisor relationship (40%), amount of work (39%), work-life balance (34%), and coworker relationships (31%). The study also found that the 84% of respondents claim that their stressful job has impacted their personal lives, with 26% reporting sleepless nights, 24% reporting depression, 21% reporting family or relationship issues, and 19% reporting physical ailments. When respondents were asked what their office does to help alleviate stress in the workplace, 13% reported “extra time-off”, 11% reported the “ability to work from home”, and dishearteningly, 66% answered “nothing.”

Monster Job Changes Due to Stress
While many of the figures in this study may seem shockingly high, when we consider all the data that surrounds us about the amount of work/life balance challenges American’s face, the high percentage of workers leaving jobs due to stress makes a little more sense. However, though it might make more sense, it doesn’t mean pushing employees to their limits, and fostering stressful work environments, is right. In fact, at Great Place to Work we have 20 years of data proving that fostering a transparent, safe, and fun workplace culture creates an incredibly more satisfying and productive environment than a high-stress/high pressure one. Check it out!

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Filed under Change, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Employment Data, Great Place to Work, Great Place to Work Institute, Leadership, Monster, Stess, Turnover, Work Life Balance

Competence: Enemy of Change?

When organizations are planning to introduce some kind of change into their system – structural change, new technology, new leadership, the merging in of an acquisition – planning for the implementation is key, right?

Usually a change management model is chosen on which to build the process, and there are lots of them:

  • Bridges
  • Kotter
  • McKinsey Seven S
  • Lewin
  • Nadler Tushman

Each of these models places an extreme value on communication.  And rightfully so.  Most experts advise that when you think you have communicated enough about change…communicate some more.  Not bad advice.

But the advice that almost every model neglects is this:  spend more time training than communicating; spend more money on training than on communication; spend more leadership time and energy in training than in being visible; spend more innovation on training than on well, innovation.

Here’s the deal:  adults like to be competent.  It’s important to them.  It’s motivating because it generates feelings of mastery and gives the sense of control.  When you introduce change that suddenly makes them incompetent, productivity plummets.  When you make them incompetent, morale decreases. When you make them incompetent, turnover increases.  When you make them incompetent and don’t give them a fast path to competence, your change management process is sunk.

Burch’s work for GTI that identifies the pathway from unconscious or conscious incompetence to unconscious or conscious competence ought to be at the heart of any change management process.  You want your employees to adopt your new technology solution?  Be sure your change management process focuses primarily on moving your employees out of conscious incompetence to conscious competence ASAP.

Because guess what?  Communication doesn’t cure incompetence.  Telling doesn’t change behavior, training changes behavior.  So change management plans that focus more on communication than training don’t achieve the desired adoption outcomes.

All but the most change hardy in your workforce – that small percentage of Early Adopters – will resist changing because being competent is everything.  And that old technology solution you decided to replace?  Well, everyone was competent on it.  And now, with the decision to move to a Cloud-based, mobile-enabled, SaaS solution, you’ve made them all incompetent.

So help them out.  Communicate like crazy.  And get the C-Suite involved.

But spend every waking minute ensuring that that training on the new solution is available 24/7.  That it’s available in classrooms and webinars.  In every language your workforce speaks.  In every location your workforce reports to duty. During every shift your workforce works.  Multiple times.  Let your employees participate in the training more than once.  Make it easy and convenient to get competent.

And when the project goes long and over budget, don’t you dare touch the training budget.  In fact, if it goes long and over budget, increase the training budget.

Because competence is the enemy of change.

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Filed under Change, Change Management, China Gorman, Concious Competence, Concious Incompetence, Connecting Dots

Every Day Is New Year’s Day

New Year’s is the time of year when everyone is writing about predictions and resolutions.  I count myself in good company with Laurie Ruettimann at TheCynicalGirl.com:  “I think resolutions are for wimps, suckers, and Valerie Bertinelli.”  Well, that might be a bit extreme (especially the Valerie Bertinelli part), but the fact remains, I don’t do New Year’s resolutions.

I haven’t made one in years.  Instead, I try to live my life in a way that encourages me to change and grow whenever I face new challenges and have new experiences.  I don’t limit those opportunities for growth to one time each year.  Because real behavioral change is hard.  Really hard.

Let’s face it.  New Year’s resolutions are about making a change in our behavior:  making our lives better by quitting smoking, losing weight, going back to school to get a degree, repairing a relationship, and more.  And since changing behavior is really hard, just deciding to “change” on one night of the year doesn’t work. 

When I think of the times I really focused on changing something about my behavior, I needed more than just deciding to change.  I needed to accept that change was required so that I could achieve my desired outcome.  In other words, it takes more than desire to change – especially if you’re evaluating the current behavior as less than positive.

That’s where the Kubler-Ross grief model becomes relevant in understanding how to make change happen.  I think of it more as a model to create personal change.  You know that the five stages are: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. 

Most New Year’s resolutions get quickly off track at the Anger stage.  And for many, it only takes a few days.  But to really change behavior, you must have a plan that helps you move through all the stages to positive action…and sustained change.

For example, when I finally realize that in order to lose weight I must start to live a more balanced lifestyle including healthy eating and regular exercise I go into denial:  “I can lose weight and not change what I eat.”  That doesn’t last long because I slip right into Anger.  “Dammit! I like eating chocolate and French fries and I’m not giving them up!”  That stays for a while and then, weasel-like, I begin to bargain with myself:  “Well, if I just exercise more I can still have ice cream every day.”  Then the cold hard realization sets in that I can’t be the healthy me without really changing my behavior as it relates to what I eat.  And that’s where most New Year’s resolutions stop.  Depression or avoidance set in and we’re done.  Finished.  No change.  Just the same old same old.

But Acceptance is where the rubber meets the road.  It’s the place where resolutions become action and change starts to happen.  And it’s accepting that change must happen in order to achieve a better outcome.  Like losing weight and living a healthier lifestyle. 

Personally, I think that having a plan gets us through Denial, Anger, Bargaining and Depression and into Acceptance more quickly.  Maybe not, but that’s how it works for me.  Because a plan keeps me focused on the future and what I want to achieve.

So that’s how I think about making change happen in my personal life.  Works for my professional life as well.  And that’s why I don’t do New Year’s resolutions.  My new year starts whenever I tackle something that needs to change for the better in my life. 

So, really, every day has the opportunity to be New Year’s Day.  And I like that.

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Filed under Change, Kubler-Ross Grief Model, New Year's Resolutions, The Cynical Girl