Easing employee anxiety in an era of transformational change

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There’s a big, new, recurring theme emerging in the workplace, regardless of industry, as the Fourth Industrial Revolution approaches: Lack of employee confidence.

Employees in countries all over the world, including Canada, are nervous about automation and artificial intelligence putting their jobs at risk.

Workers are wondering or asking openly: Is my job going to be OK? Is my company going to survive? Is technology going to make me irrelevant?

And they aren’t just watching the change happening all around them passively. They’re reacting to it, often by looking for other jobs, perhaps because they’re seeking more security. Or they’re nervous and anxious about what they’re seeing, which can obviously have an impact on job performance and morale, not to mention the strategic change that the organization is trying to drive.

And that’s often because employers haven’t done enough to tell them: We hear you, we see you and we have your back as we position our company for tomorrow.

So start communicating with your employees on this front, and do it now. 

If you’re driving transformational change, you simply won’t be successful if your people are left to grapple with uncertainty and fear. Such anxiety is distracting, and can lead to staff turnover. And thanks to LinkedIn and other industry-specific platforms, clients and potential clients will notice if people are leaving, and they’ll easily pick up on the fact that your remaining employees are nervous.

There’s no question that change can be scary. But the fastest way to manage those fears among your employees is to be clear, transparent and make sure your teams understand that you’ve got their back.

That’s especially true of your most valuable employees. Make sure the MVPs on your teams who consistently go the extra mile, who have a wide array of skills and who have a substantial impact on your firm’s bottom line get the message loud and clear: Their jobs are going to be OK. Their company is going to thrive. And technology can augment -- but never replace -- the many skills they bring to the table.