Motivating employees through change

Frederik Bisbjerg, Chief Transformation Officer at AXA – Global Healthcare shares five strategies to help HR professionals support employees with their mental wellbeing through organisational change.

Significant work changes can be stressful for employees, whether it’s implementing a new IT system, restructuring the team, or even sending staff abroad. But, given the right conditions, change can also help foster creativity and encourage self-development.

Statistics* shows that paying attention to employees’ mental wellbeing benefits both staff and businesses. Individuals were placed into one of four categories, on a spectrum from those struggling mentally at one end to those who are at peak mental health at the other. The study found that people who have the best mental wellbeing are more productive at work and are less likely to leave their jobs.

So, what can managers and HR staff do to protect their employees’ mental health, helping them deal with problems that arise from change?

Be specific with your appraisals
Don’t give out empty compliments. Make sure you give detail on what went well in an employee’s work. For instance, if you give feedback on a presentation, pick out what you liked, for example, their tone of voice, confidence, or the way they interacted with others in the room. This also applies to constructive feedback; make sure to mention any areas of improvement too.

Study the structure of your team
Take a step back and really think about the team structure within your organisation, considering how everyone’s role works in tandem. Look at how the part each role plays contributes to growth, both for the whole group and for individuals. Observing these details can help you look for opportunities for team members to progress and learn new skills, as well as finding spaces where employees could be better supported.

Know what’s in it for your team members
Elaborate on the benefits for your team of hitting any new targets, financial or otherwise, This can be narrowed down to individual team members too, for hitting personal targets or even mastering any newly required skills. The benefit of hitting these targets doesn’t always have to be a pay rise; it could also be a feeling of accomplishment or public recognition, depending on what each team member finds rewarding.

Make sure your team know they’re appreciated
Constantly reminding your team of their accomplishments and telling them they’re doing well can be incredibly motivating. Appreciate and celebrate what your team is achieving and recognise how they’re coping with changes. Make sure everyone in the team knows their efforts are being noticed and taken into account.

The 5.6:1 rule
A study by Losada and Heaphy on the role of positivity and connectivity in the performance of business teams found that the highest-performing teams were given nearly six positive pieces of feedback for every piece of negative feedback, equating to a 5.6:1 ratio. This works well because positive feedback has the ability to grab someone’s attention and encourages them to start listening to feedback. On the other hand, negative feedback guards against complacency. Finding the right balance can help motivate employees who might be struggling through changes within the business.

Changes aren’t always easy to navigate in the workplace, but providing proper managerial support through tough times can strengthen your team’s bond. This, and supporting the mental wellbeing of individual team members, can motivate staff to continue to strive for greatness through periods of change.

*AXA’s 2023 Mind Health Index

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