3 Reasons Why Your Employees Resist Change

    Sep 17, 2018 | Posted by Michael Campbell

    Shifting technological landscapes have transformed the way people do business, increasing the necessity and regularity of change initiatives in order to remain competitive.

    We are all neurologically programmed to prefer stability and habit and so we naturally react in a fight or flight manner to anything that threatens this status.

    We've compiled three reasons why you might face resistance while trying to implement your change project. 

    1) Previous bad experience

    As humans, we learn from our previous experiences and our attitudes about change are partly determined by the way organisational changes have been handled in the past. If change has been handled badly in the past within your organisation, employees may well have sounds reasons to resist. Why should they believe that the change will be more successful than disruptive this time around? It's important that if this is the case with your employees, you make a conscious effort to learn from previous mistakes when implementing the change and explain clearly why the new approach is different and how it is founded in best practice.

    2) Fear of job loss

    Organisations, not only in Singapore but worldwide, are embracing digital transformation and the fourth industrial revolution is blurring the use of technology in every part of our lives. Any newly introduced process or technology will disrupt the organisational status quo which is likely to create a sense of uneasiness amongst staff.  

    The move to digital, digitalisation or the introduction of new digital processes is being used to redesign and streamline operations and with this, sometimes comes job loss and often comes a significant change in our daily role.

    New processes or technologies are considered when the current way of working needs to be improved. This might concern the current workforce that they aren't performing as well as needed. The introduction of technological advancements, such as Artificial Intelligence, into the workplace, can feed into the potentially irrational fear that robots will replace humans in the future. Both of these factors can create a feeling that the changes will mean some employees will lose their job further down the line.

    However, we can choose to participate in a change which comes with the consequence of our own job being retrenched, its a question of the approach taken by our organisation to us about this change. Taking that approach is an organisational and individual choice, requiring trust, investment and care on both sides.

     3) Reason for the change is unclear

    When changes are being introduced, it’s important that they are positioned in a way that makes the need for the specific change clear to everyone involved. Not only should you communicate the need for the change, but how this change impacts current job roles. Is it going to make lives easier? Why can't we stay as we are?

    Employees and managers will ask themselves: “What’s in it for me?” and if the answer isn’t apparent then it is unlikely that they will agree to participate. Facing resistance when implementing any type of change is commonplace. Minimising the level of resistance and learning to effectively combat this, using a structured process, will ensure a higher level of uptake and overall success.



    Take the time to understand four things before you approach staff with your change project: what the specific change includes, who the change will impact, how it will impact them and why they might reasonably resist the change.

    By doing this proactively, you will ensure you are communicating your reasons for the change in a way that resonates with everyone involved and resistance will be significantly reduced even before it begins to surface.


    Want to learn more? 

    Read our post ‘3 types of change management resistance & how to combat them’ to learn more about how you can ensure resistance isn't detrimental to your change management project.

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