How HR Can Help Employees Through a Personnel Change
By Jori Hamilton
Image Source: Pexels
September 3 2021 - Change is often an uncomfortable process. As a human resources (HR) professional, itís a common part of your responsibilities to not just help strategize change but ensure employees can cope with the turbulence. One area of change that can be particularly disruptive for workers is personnel alterations.
Itís not difficult to see why this is the case; a great team dynamic can be a delicate balance. When members of the team leave or are promoted and are then replaced this balance can start to wobble. Too often, HR departments are focused on the challenges of hiring and ignore how they can act to support and guide current employees.
So, letís review a few areas you can focus on to assist employees through the personnel change process.
One of the problems with bringing new staff on board is the rest of your team can feel shut out of the process. Often, the first time they meet a new member of personnel is on the fresh hire's first day. This is at odds with the fact that new personnel have the potential to change a teamís dynamic and even the company culture. As such, it can be wise to keep staff - at least the immediately affected team members - in the loop during the recruitment process.
Wherever possible, you should get teams actively involved. Bring a group of relevant staff together for an HR-led meeting to gain their input into recruitment. Talk about the qualities they value in a colleague alongside the range of technical and soft skills that make a difference in the job. This doesnít mean to say you should base the recruitment process entirely on their recommendations. But it can inform your choices while also helping workers feel more connected to the process and prepared for a change.
Thereís also some scope to involving the team in final hiring decisions. While itís not appropriate or practical to have the team sitting in on interviews, there are other ways to gain feedback. Following an interview, invite the candidate to meet the team. It can even be smart to offer candidates the opportunity to join the team for an hour or so to experience the work being done in the department. This also gives employees the chance to talk to the candidate and provide you with insights on how they might fit into the department.
One difficult element of any business change for employees is the presence of the unknown. This is no different when it comes to personnel alterations. Yet, it is one of the few areas HR personnel and business leaders donít tend to strategize to maximize successful implementation.
Following change management protocols can be a wise approach here. While this is most often applied to wider organizational alterations like technological development and internal audits, it can also be beneficial in personnel changes. This is because change management is aimed at preparing and supporting teams through any difficult transitional periods. There is no one right way to go about this process. However, some of the key principles include gaining buy-in for the changes (staff needs to understand and accept the situation), assessing the impact of the alterations, and making certain your staff is prepared to address the challenges that arise. Your HR department should work with managers to make a step-by-step plan of the personnel change process, including points at which key explanatory meetings with staff should occur and protocols for assessing how they are adapting throughout the change.
Perhaps the most important part of your change strategy is a commitment to continual communication. Personnel change canít proceed smoothly if your staff feel as though their needs and concerns are being neglected. Make plans to not just send emails or memos but actually talk to teams throughout the transition. It can be smart to have an open-door policy for discussions if any lingering issues need to be addressed.
One of the primary ways personnel change can be disruptive to employees is on an emotional level. There are a lot of feelings wrapped up in how teams function and bond. Employees may find themselves upset by the departure of a close and valued colleague. They may experience personality clashes with new hires that add stress to their workday. The upshot is, alongside addressing the practical challenges of change, you also have to handle the emotional impact.
As an HR professional, one of the challenges you may have to address is envy and discord following a promotion. This is common in fields where gaining qualifications can lead to internal progression. In a marketing business, one of the primary ways to move into management is by gaining a master of business administration (MBA) in the field. This kind of promotion alters not only the number of responsibilities an employee has but also their relationship with colleagues. Some workers may be hurt by a colleague being elevated before they are, and there can even be a reluctance to engage with this colleague on the level of a superior.
Your best way to handle this and other emotional issues is by facilitating open and productive conversations on the matter. It is not your place to be a counsellor but it can be helpful if employees feel they can talk about their thoughts, worries, and emotions surrounding the change. Itís also worth bearing in mind one of the keys to supporting employees through any change is by being a resource. Take the opportunity to illustrate how such changes should influence an employeeís own progression and introduce them to other resources that help them develop.
Personnel changes in an organization are not always easy. However, your role as an HR professional can put you in a position to help them navigate this change. Involve team members in the hiring process, carefully plan the journey of changes, and be willing to help address the strong emotions they may be feeling. Such alterations will always be a reality of business but taking a few careful precautions helps make certain there is a positive impact all around.
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Jori Hamilton is a freelance writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of subjects but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to business productivity, recruitment, HR, and marketing strategies. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.
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