Most people would agree that changes keep life interesting. It doesn’t take long for the same old routine to feel boring and unengaging. But what happens when there are too many changes too rapidly? There is such a thing as change saturation and even change fatigue. 

After over a year of working virtually, wearing masks, and constant hand sanitization, things were beginning to look like they did pre-pandemic. In some areas, restrictions are tightening again as a new wave of the delta variant takes over. With so many changes and adjustments to how and where we work, it’s understandable that employees would feel change fatigue. They are not able to adapt quickly enough to ever-changing policies and procedures, so their productivity and quality of work suffer. It’s overwhelming. So how can we identify when our teams are feeling change fatigue and what can we do to overcome it?

 

Recognizing Change Fatigue

When changes occur in the workplace, whether it’s to duties, procedures, or something else, the ADKAR model shows us how employees react when they accept and believe in the change. They support the change and they actively reinforce the change in order to sustain it. This is not always the case, however, and when an employee is change fatigued, they show different signs. Some symptoms and signs to look for are:

  • Frequent complaints and resistance to changes
  • Indifference about changes or complete disengagement
  • Employee burnout and visible exhaustion
  • Negative attitude and skepticism about the effectiveness of the change

It is important to recognize these signs because change fatigued employees are less productive and do not feel job satisfaction. Change fatigue can lead to delayed and failed projects or even higher employee turnover rates. Now that we know how to spot change fatigue, how do we overcome it?

 

Overcoming Change Fatigue

If you recognize change fatigue in your organization, you must address the physical and emotional impact on your employees. You’ll benefit from doing what you can to pause change initiatives and take some time to analyze your situation. What has created the change fatigue and what can you do to prevent it from happening again? When it comes to change fatigue related to the Covid-19 pandemic, change has been out of your control. But you can get feedback from your employees about how you might have improved the situation and how you can better support change in the future.  A few other ways you can prevent and overcome change fatigue are:

Invest in employee resiliency.

Employees are more able to navigate new changes when they are emotionally healthy and they feel supported. You can invest in employee resiliency by providing great benefits, offering wellness programs, and ensuring employees utilize PTO to refresh and reset.

Implement consistent feedback loops.

Leaders that listen to and give employees a voice generate a sense of understanding and trust which results in a stronger willingness to adopt changes. Stay up to date on how your employees feel and look for opportunities to showcase how you’ve listened and implemented their suggestions. 

Change can be a good thing and it’s the only way to improve and correct past mistakes. Implementing too many changes in a short period of time, however, can hurt a company more than it helps. Be cautious and listen to your employees to ensure that the changes you implement are effective and that they aren’t becoming change fatigued.