How does change of workplace affects mental health.
Change is inevitable and one constant thing in our life. For many, it can be a positive and rejuvenating experience. But unfortunately for some, change isn’t always easy. In such times of economic uncertainty, pandemic, budget cuts and restructuring, change of workplace, the overall impact of these changes can have a negative impact on the mental health of the employees. American Psychological Association (APA) conducted a study which showed how organizational changes as restructuring, change of workplace, or new leadership can have an effect on employees who are already stressed and how this created mistrust and led the employees to have greater desire to find new jobs.
Change of workplace can lead to new developments, opportunities, and enhanced learning benefitting the organization and its employees but it can also give rise to deep feelings of insecurity, confusion, grief, and fear. Employees’ sense of self is disrupted and they have inner experiences such as loss of self-esteem, loss of feelings of security and safety, loss of control over things, loss of autonomy, etc. It increases stress and anxiety which often gives rise to anger and frustration.
Disruptions of the self, occurring in response to change, are lost and it may force people into new roles and new ways of doing things. Also, it makes people give up established and valued ways of functioning; for many individuals, their sense of identity is linked to these established behaviors. When change is forced upon employees, they may not get sufficient time which requires adjustment to new behaviors or letting go of past behaviors.
Hence it is important to recognize and acknowledge these natural responses within the organization or team as you introduce change is important.
GUIDING EMPLOYEES THROUGH CHANGE
Major changes into a work environment many already view as emotionally taxing is something that must be approached compassionately, empathetically, and pragmatically for best outcomes.
Supporting and guiding teams through change makes all the difference in whether new processes result in emotional discord and lost productivity or an increase in the positive experience of personal and professional growth.
In all cases where change is imminent within the organization, there are steps that could be taken to lay a solid foundation on which to build:
- Nurture Trust with Open, Honest Communication.
Keeping the channels of communication open, even expanding them, can have a significant, positive impact on fostering trust, goodwill, and a willingness to embrace change. Make efforts to be more available, visible, and attentive, and careful listeners. Hold individual and team meetings to encourage questions, input, and discussions about how your employees are feeling - and dealing with - what’s happening. This allows you to convey accurate information during a time where confusion and misinformation may arise and gives your employees the opportunity to be heard, have their concerns addressed, and see firsthand that they aren’t alone. This also serves to help you gauge how everyone is adjusting and what specific areas could be better addressed to increase morale and productivity.
- Acknowledge That Change Can Be Difficult…But Stay Positive. People spend huge portions of their lives working, so it’s normal for them to react strongly and negatively to changes. Let your employees know you understand their feelings and that they’re normal while maintaining an upbeat, positive attitude. Keep spirits and enthusiasm up by congratulating and thanking your employees on jobs that are done well and encouraging them.
- Include Employees in The Process. Purposefully having your workers engage in tasks directly related to the change at hand fosters motivation in working toward its success, while empowering the team.
- Give Change Ample Time. Introduce change gradually in well-thought-out phases you share with your team ahead of time, where possible. Predictable, smaller transitions made over manageable periods of adjustment are more likely to be accepted and effectively implemented than drastic, sweeping ones without a shared plan of action or vision.
Signs and symptoms that organizational change is negatively impacting mental health
- Decreased productivity
- Difficulty in managing emotions
- Increased level of anger or frustration
- Difficulty managing work and personal life
- Low self-esteem
EMBRACING WORKPLACE CHANGE
Despite changes and stresses, the following are self-care strategies for coping with and embracing change
- Communication: Communicate honestly with managers regarding concerns
- Collaborating with others: Offer support and assistance to your colleagues if you sense they may be struggling. Also, it is important to be willing to accept and ask for assistance when needed.
- Managing stress:
- Be compassionate and kind to yourself by giving importance to your own needs and giving time to yourself
- Acknowledge the distress you are experiencing.
- Experiencing stress and anxiety is a natural response. Take a brief moment to identify what you are feeling and what you are doing.
- Positive thinking: Having a positive attitude on workplace change can help you adapt and accept.
- Staying balanced
- Seek professional help to deal with the distress effectively and manage your mental health