The Perils of Change Saturation: Four Tips to Better Manage Change
The world is in a state of unprecedented change. Regardless of geography, culture or industry, change fatigue – or change saturation, as practitioners of the Prosci change management methodology call it – is becoming increasingly prevalent.
In 2019, Prosci released its Best Practices in Change Management report, and even before the pandemic hit, the study revealed that the amount of change is expected to continue to increase across all sectors. Digital transformation, new leadership, mergers and acquisitions and other substantial forms of change are becoming the norm as organisations evolve. But when too much change happens at once, or is mismanaged, change saturation kicks in.
The report’s survey of almost 2,000 people across 85 countries showed that 72 percent of organisations were nearing, at, or past the point of change saturation. The worst affected sectors, interestingly enough, were utilities, banking, telecommunications, education and finance.
Simply put, the people working within an organisation have only so much capacity for change at any given moment, and when this capacity is reached, resistance skyrockets, making it increasingly difficult to implement the change.
Change was already increasing prior to the pandemic, but Covid-19 has compounded this already complicated landscape.
According to US mental health provider Ginger, in 2020, 69 percent of employees said the pandemic was the most stressful point of their entire professional career. People were dealing with the challenges of working from home, managing childcare, learning new digital ways of working and health issues. Naturally, this meant their capacity for change was becoming severely limited, meaning that dealing with further change was increasingly difficult.
Tech consultancy Gartner said that employees could only deal with around half the amount of change in 2020, showcasing the very real effects of change fatigue.
Change management processes are always easier when employees feel valued, meaning a positive work environment with trust at its core will ensure that when issues arise, leadership will be the first to know. By offering opportunities for open dialogue with the people experiencing the change, we can pre-emptively mitigate resistance and help prevent feelings of change saturation.