One thing that can always be said of the workplace is that change is constant. The whats, wheres, whens, with whos and whys of our working lives are all subject to regular change. And the pandemic seems to have accelerated change even more.
Here we look at 5 strategies for coping and even thriving in a culture of change, plus we look at examples of how you might cope with specific changes typically happening right now.
5 ways employees can thrive amongst change
The pace of change over the last year or so has been phenomenal. Employees have needed to cope with working from home, new technologies, a refocusing of skills, and much more, all while coping with a pandemic in their personal lives.
Workplaces have changed faster than ever before. Without a doubt, the last year will have thrown companies and their employees some very challenging situations.
If you’ve found this time difficult, you’ll be looking for some tips on how you can better cope with further change. Better still, you’ll want to know how you can actually embrace change and use it positively to strengthen your position. Here are some ideas.
1. Accept that change is inevitable
Change is fundamental to a business’s survival. Workplaces must initiate change to become more efficient, productive, competitive and profitable.
Change is guaranteed to happen in every workplace. Your colleagues will move on and new people will come onboard, your role will evolve, your workplace tools will advance.
Then occasionally, a huge curveball will come along like a pandemic. Therefore, you need to:
2. Challenge yourself to stay positive
Staying positive through turbulent times is not easy. Yet it is considered necessary. Try not to resent change, even if you initially perceive it to be for the worst.
Change at the very least prevents boredom, challenges us to learn new skills, and helps us work on our adaptability and problem-solving skills. See change as an opportunity for personal growth and learning. Try to focus on all the positive aspects of change.
3. Stay tuned into future trends
Keep abreast of what experts in your field predict for the future. This will help you personally anticipate changes so that you can have coping strategies ready.
However, your interest may also protect your employer from industry ambushes. Being on the ball in this way will help you stand out as someone who is proactive and a team player. You may also be identified as someone who can help direct strategy.
Staying in the loop is one simple thing you can do to help elevate your career. Do this by listening to podcasts, reading trade journals and blog posts, attending seminars, and networking with others in the industry as much as possible.
4. Be a lifelong learner
Strive to always be learning. There are so many ways to learn on the job. Some of these ways are formal: seminars and training courses, for example. Others are informal, but just as important. These might be done through conversations with colleagues or connecting with others working in similar roles.
All these learning opportunities give you a chance to challenge yourself and your way of thinking. Be in the practice of habitually evaluating and reevaluating your work practices. Listen to the opinions and experiences of others. This will help you respond to change faster and more intuitively.
5. Prioritise good communication
Never be afraid to ask questions. Talk to as many people as you can, both in your workplace and within your industry. Through these conversations, you will learn so much. You will nurture good working relationships and your confidence will grow.
Ask for help when you need it and give it when others ask for it. Make your voice heard but also know when to stay quiet. Listening is as vital as speaking to good communication.
A supportive and communicative environment will help everyone in your organisation cope with change, including yourself. So be someone who helps cultivate this kind of environment.
Your workplace today
As you will know by now, workplaces change all the time: people come and go, there are promotions and redundancies. Tasks become obsolete and new tasks are created. Strategies change. Management styles vary.
Some changes involve major reorganisations, but most are small and incremental changes. If you’ve been with an organisation for a decade, the chances are that the place is almost unrecognisable compared to the one you began in.
Organisational changes, big and small, are also influenced by what’s happening in the wider world. Right now, two of the biggest influences are the coronavirus pandemic and new technology. Let’s look at how they are affecting the workplace across all industries and how you can respond.
Hours and location
Without a doubt, the pandemic has accelerated a trend for more flexible working practices.
For some time now, technology has enabled employees to work from home or other locations with relative ease. More and more employers are being flexible with working hours too, meaning that workers can choose hours that suit their lifestyles and families.
How you can respond to this change:
- Make every effort to stay connected with your colleagues. More than ever, they need you to be ‘visible’ and to see that you are meeting your responsibilities.
- Staff training may have been placed on the back burner during the pandemic, but you can still be proactive in seeking out your own learning opportunities.
- Accept that the coronavirus pandemic will have enacted permanent changes in the working patterns within your industry. Try to stay positive about what these might be.
The increasing use of AI and technology
Tech is streamlining many work processes and AI is regularly completing tasks that were done by humans just a short while ago.
Because of the pace of change, hard skills are now being seen by employers as less important. They can quickly become outdated. For this reason, employers are looking more and more for soft skills, especially those that will mean an employee can keep pace with changes and learn hard skills at speed.
Soft skills in high demand include communication, problem solving, creativity, resourcefulness and adaptability.
How you can respond to this change:
- Nurture your soft skills, not just in the workplace but through hobbies and sports, too.
- Stay in the loop. Do you know which technological advancements are set to have a major impact on your field?
- Soldier ahead and focus on your own path. If you can see that your role will be significantly altered by tech in the near future, which way do you want to go?
Above all, stay positive and optimistic. Change can bring good. And it will bring some incredible opportunities your way.