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Annie Hayes

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Cut and run or stick with it?

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These days change is a part of our lives whether we want it to be or not. The question we should ask is, is it always for the best, in other words is changing direction always better than sticking with the status quo? HR Consultant Sandra Beale of SJ Beale HR Consult investigates.


On one hand change can be stimulating and invigorating, but on the other it can be cumbersome to manage and not ordinarily the easy option, which is why many businesses prefer to maintain the status quo justifying it with an attitude of “why rock the boat?”

We have all worked for organisations which explain their processes and procedures with the remark, “we have always done it like this.” Sometimes this old adage may require challenging, however, particularly if inefficiency is evident.

Sometimes, however, the preservation of the status quo is the only way to maintain the balance within an organisation taking the attitude of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Staying with the status quo ensures certainty of methods and results. In these situations, it is only when things start to go stale, profits drop or competitors are winning that a change of direction is considered.

It is sometimes difficult to see the way out of such situations which is often why consultants are brought in to give a fresh eye often using tried and tested formats that have worked elsewhere.

For those companies that see the benefits of change, it is usually driven from the top by senior management and can be for a number of reasons. Business strategy may be the key driver in response to external influences including political, economic, legal or technological factors.

Keeping an eye on the competition can be another impetus, aiming to get ahead by trying to find new products and markets to increase profits.

The desire to implement change should be following consideration of whether it is worthwhile by undertaking a cost-benefit analysis before proceeding.

Strategic change may lead to changes within an organisation such as re-structuring for efficiency to meet the new demands or try, as well, to cure inefficient existing ways of working.

Unfortunately, when changing direction both for strategic and internal reasons many organisations fail to consult with the workforce over planned changes and fail to communicate the reasons why they are doing what they are doing. This often creates a lot of stress leading to reduced productivity, increased absenteeism and ultimately costly turnover.

If internal change could be planned as strategically as responding to external influences and handled in a better way the benefits would be more comprehensive to those affected by it.

Consultation is a good tool to enable buy in from the workforce. If employees are consulted with over planned changes and allowed to give an opinion for agreement or not, the tricky pathway to change can be managed more easily. Using focus groups can be a cost and time effective method of undertaking this involving all levels of stakeholders within the business.

Communication about planned changes can be provided in a variety of forms – via an intranet, notice board, newsletter or team briefing. Again if there is a chance to feedback to the top with suggestion schemes or two-way briefing sessions much of the buy in can be maintained.

Although sticking with the status quo may bring balance and certainty in certain situations, changing direction can breathe new life into organisations and procedures, but this needs to be carefully handled to ensure an easy transition.

For further information see www.sjbealhrconsult.co.uk

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One Response

  1. Good Article
    I’d agree with everything you said but I’d add that companies need to learn not just to consult and communicate but to start to deliver the real and honest business reasons for change. I think companies are getting better at consulting staff on change but there still seems to be massive resistance from the board and senior management to actually making real data available to staff so they can fully understand the process.

    Which considering that for most organisations anyone can get hold of a copy of your published accounts to withhold the same information from your staff seems a bit bonkers.

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