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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, as an employer, you are seeing and hearing things like louder complaints about changes, indifference and disengagement with work and 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% of 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, and more.

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 throughout 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.

In other words, employees own the change planning process. From there, they can develop individual or team change-implementation plans. Communication becomes an open conversation rather than 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 about innovation, creativity, and long-term growth and results. Ensuring that your employees don’t burn out or become change-fatigued is an important leadership responsibility.


Valerie Harlow is a learing advisor and facilitator at the Employers Assoc. of the NorthEast. This article first appeared on the EANE blog; eane.org