Shadow of butterfly eminating from cocoon.

Results Without the Change Work?

By John Frehse

May 15, 2019

This article was originally published by the Kronos Workforce Institute entitled ‘Results Without the Change Work?’

The 2019 Ankura Annual Labor Survey results are in, and although some new trends emerge for us to consider, much of the data reinforces sentiments from previous years. The continued pressure to hire and retain a quality workforce remains a top priority as do cost savings, productivity gains, employee engagement and culture.

We believe these trends will continue in 2019, although hiring and retention may become easier as the economy cools down.

What is not cooling is the cost of employees. 82% of all respondents said they believed wages would increase in 2019. So, with “more of the same, but at a higher cost” being the name of the game in 2019, what can we hopefully, finally, (tearfully?) learn this time around about getting the ambitious results we want from our labor strategies?

I’d argue that the most important thing to focus on is fully appreciating and planning for the process of change.

According to our survey, change management is perceived to be a very low priority, with only 2% of our respondents naming it as a “1st Priority” initiative for 2019. 31% said recruiting, and all other popular responses related back to outcomes, not improved processes.

Yet, the inability to hire and retain good or great employees is typically seen in firms struggling with change. Transformation is fragmented, and the culture isn’t properly formed. So, although the focus is on outcomes, the process is largely forgotten.

Instead, organizations buy a new technology: It is robust, heavily featured, and engages their workforce in ways they could have only dreamed of in previous years.

In fact, it is so functional, employers lull themselves into feeling that the process and people parts of the equation are less important.

Won’t this cool new technology “just work?”

The short answer is “no.” It won’t work unless the organization aligns the technology with goals and manages the change.

As technology has become more advanced, more engaging, more mission critical, the level of change required has also grown. So, instead of less change management, we really need more. The desired results will not be achieved if the transformation is not handled properly.

Management teams continue to ignore this crucial part of the equation. We continue to want the results without putting in the work. Whether we are trying to explain self-control to a 5-year-old or helping a 50-year-old in need of operational improvement and cost savings, the change management work must be done. There are no shortcuts with people.

Projects involving people (labor strategy, workforce management, HCM, ERP) MUST rely heavily on change management to achieve long term success.