A Gartner study of 499 finance and shared services employees in January 2020 showed that half (49 percent) reported low mental energy related to coping with changes.
While many companies endorse change management, efforts center on making big changes successful. And big changes comprise only 4 percent of the changes that impact employees. The research showed that the biggest impact on employee mental energy could be gained by supporting employees through the effect of small changes which make up 96 percent of the changes employees need to cope with.
Gartner defines a big change as a sizable disruption such as M&A, a new job, an RPA implementation or major system upgrade. Gartner defines a small change as a lesser disruption that is typically handled on an individual or local level. For example: an incremental update to a tool, new expense submission requirements, or a co-worker leaves or joins the team. Only about a third of leaders perform key support activities for smaller change.
Many leaders rely on formal annual employee surveys to monitor employee engagement. This is too infrequent to properly gauge the impact of the many small changes and hurdles that employees face week to week. Instead, Gartner experts recommend that managers carry out a weekly assessment of the impact of small changes on employees as one way to get ahead of and support their teams.
The study showed that a focus on supporting employees with the impact of small changes drove more than twice the gains in employee mental energy when compared to a focus on big change initiatives. Gartner experts therefore recommend that finance and shared services leaders immediately take stock of the impact of small changes on their employees, particularly considering the disruption stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.