How to Introduce Policy Changes to Your Employees
Change is hard, especially in the workplace. Employees are used to the same routine day in and day out and most are resistant to any kind of policy change. Even those who aren’t averse to new systems may have some trouble adjusting. Finding the right way to introduce these changes will make all the difference in ensuring a smooth transition and making sure whatever changes you make are beneficial and long-lasting. Here are a few ways to do just that.
Give Advance Notice
Before you put a new policy or policy change into effect, notify your employees in advance. Doing so will give them a chance to prepare for adjustments on their part and let them know what to expect.
This is especially important if you’re implementing a new dress code, changing up payday processes or enforcing a new rule that directly pertains to your employees. Distribute paper copies of the notice and include the date on which these changes will take effect.
Share Your Reasoning
Regardless of how much notice you give, some employees may still have qualms about changing their routine or personal appearance. This resistance to alterations can result in policy changes falling through and failing.
Help all employees cope with the transition by sharing the reasoning behind your decision to make the policy change. Be sure to explain any and all business-related reasons and emphasize how this change will better serve guests, clients and customers.
Focus on the Positives
Additionally, you should point out how changes might benefit your employees. For example, if you employees driving the company car, you may begin implementing GPS tracking to ensure drivers practice safe driving techniques and aren’t stranded if they break down.
While this new system is meant to benefit both your company and the employees, some may see this move as overbearing and an invasion of privacy, or a sign that you don’t trust them. Remind your team members it’s for their benefit and point out the positives like how they’ll have less paperwork to do and less downtime, results in more money in their pockets.
Provide Support and Training
More complex policies and procedural changes may require more than a written notice. Instead, you may have to implement a training program or provide resources so that employees understand how these changes apply to them. Provide this support as long as you see fit to better prepare your company as a whole, as well as your employees, for new responsibilities and tasks. Doing so will ensure a smoother transition.
Obtain Written Acknowledgement
In the end, whether team members think the policy is a good idea or not, they must still comply with it so long as it’s ethical and within reason. Make sure your team is aware of the changes and willing to comply with them before they go into effect by distributing policy acknowledgment receipts. This form is especially important if you plan to use disciplinary measures to enforce the new rules.
Ask for Feedback
Throughout the entire process of creating and deploying a new policy, continue to ask your managers and employees for feedback. Of course, you won’t ask every single employee to share their thoughts. However, asking a handful of trustworthy workers how they view the potential change will help you revise for clarity and fairness.
Make any necessary modifications before finalizing the changes. Then, even after publicizing them, continue to ask for feedback to make sure employees are receiving the new policies well.
Show Some Grace
As your team adjusts to these changes, remember to show them grace. If they’re late to work after a schedule change, give them a second chance. If someone forgets to complete a training module, try to make time for them to complete it. Showing your employees you’re willing to work with them, in the beginning, will make even stricter changes seem less harsh and will likely boost employee compliance now and into the future.
One of the main reasons why policy changes fail is because they’re too big and ambitious. Often, huge changes can leave employees confused and frustrated, and some may even leave the company as a result.
If you made a change that had similar consequences, odds are good your employees weren’t ready for the change. Maybe you didn’t have the infrastructure or enough manpower to successfully implement or maintain the change.
Avoid making this same mistake twice by taking the time to assess and reassess your plan. Ask employees for feedback and complete the above steps as you lead your team through the uncomfortable process of change. Only then will there be a possibility of lasting, meaningful improvement.