After recession, many employers expected their employees to inject more hours into work than they did before the recession. This trend is expected to continue in the near future because employers believe that working extra hours increase productivity. This can however, be dangerous in the long run because it affects employee well being and retention (Lepore, 2011). Organizations that pressurize their employees to work extra hours to increase productivity are faced with the imminent challenge of sharp increase in voluntary turnover especially when these employee's concerns are amicably addressed and talent management initiatives put in place. Work related stress and poor work-life balance weigh down on employees and this negatively impacts companies' ability to keep their best workers. In such organizations, employees hardly have a sense of ownership or participation in new initiatives. In many such organizations, too many initiatives are introduced at the same time thereby making the employees more confused on what they should actually work on. These initiatives often require participation from the same resources. This creates conflict. Members of the organization hardly understand the vision of such organizations. Members are also frustrated with the speed at which new initiatives are introduced without even celebrating the successes of the previous ones.
It is not a secret that many organizations are suffering from change fatigue especially after the recession that rocked robust economies across the globe. Companies that had benefited from growing revenues and expanded their staff and facilities have all over a sudden suffered from poor economic performance that has been characterized with massive layoffs, facility closing, and outsourcing and offshoring (Ganguli, 2011). The remaining staffs have become a demoralized lot. Employees of such organizations have become tired of so much bad news; have become cynical about the future, distrustful of the company, and wary of changing their habits. The employees have taken a wait and see approach. It is very easy to identify organizations that are suffering from change fatigue. The moment you realize that that your communications are not being read by the intended recipients, there are reasons to tart worrying. Some of the employees may not be as enthusiastic as they were when it comes to attending training with others not giving adequate reasons for not attending such trainings. Some employees may choose not to attend informational forums. Another sign that change fatigue is slowly setting in is when people in the organization keep asking same questions over and over. Some sense of pushback or resistance may also be characterized. Members of the organization may also adamant when it comes to adopting new behaviors. All these are a sign that an organization has reached change saturation.
Despite the fact that the change fatigue concept has been around since the late 1990s, the concept has, in the recent past, been less talked about probably because of the introduction of the "change as a constant," tiredness, cynicism, and disengagement. These concepts are widely seen as reaction to regular, constant change (Ferguson, 2011). This can be attested to responses that some managers give when asked about change fatigue in their organizations. Some are on the affirmative that they are not aware about change fatigue but they see it everyday. However, some mangers attest to having not seen any sign of change fatigue in their organizations. The reason as to why some managers do not know about change fatigue is because such a phrase is hardly used within their organizations. However, they attest to some element of cynicism when a change program is announced (Syed, 2010).
Fatigue does set in when the quantity of work given to employees increases and with the type of work they are expected to do that forces them to adopt new working patterns, skills, and behaviors (Ferguson, 2011). Organizations that put in place HR management skills that compels everyone to work in a slightly different way experience staff turnover because the employees may not be ready to learn something new that would more of their energy and focus bearing in mind that it takes 10,000 hours of purposeful practice to develop high performance in a new skill. Goal directed learning is an ingredient of purposeful practice.
Organizations initiate changes that don't get finished. This happens because such organizations lack focused execution to ensure that things actually change (Ferguson, 2011). Lack of actual change after a lot of activity causes cynicism and disillusionment; negative emotions that when held over protracted period of time may lead to fatigue. Change is especially not realized when leaders are moved to new positions every year, new ventures introduced that replace the present ones, the need to respond to the ever-changing external environment, and when leaders lose interest in what they had set out to do (Ferguson, 2011).
Another pointer to the fact that organizations are facing change fatigue is the frequency with which leaders are plucked out and whirled around business. They land in a role, try to get grips with the new situation, and then move on again. This makes it difficult for them to pursue a pattern of constant change. The leader moves along with the finances and resources living the middle management, project team, and the HR to finish off the change activities. Such organizations often suffer from lack of communication. Employees are moved to new portfolios without any kind of involvement or engagement in the process (Ferguson, 2011). This results in negative emotions like anger, disempowerment, and disenfranchisement which in a way lead to fatigue. Cynicism can set in when a change program is announced in a positive light. Employees who have been made redundant do not take change as a positive thing. It is in this context regarded as a change that causes anxiety that ultimately result into fatigue (Ferguson, 2011). Change is associated with negative connotations because it is perceived to be synonymous with cost-saving, restructuring, and acquisition.
The fact that management of change is now being accepted as part of line management role is reason enough that organizations are currently suffering from change fatigue. Leadership and line management has some fundamental shift with regard to the perception of line management role. Managers from time immemorial have been tasked with managing systems and processes to attain desired output level (Ferguson, 2011). However, they have recently been tasked with managing people and more specifically performance management. Because of change fatigue, managers are now expected to translate the leader's vision in to change activity and address complexities of human emotions. Because of challenges that change fatigue come with, managers have to manage, coach, facilitate, project manage, and work cross-functionally (Ferguson, 2011). While doing all these, they have to balance business activities with the delivery of change agenda. They have to deal with the direct impact of the change. Leaders must therefore have the ability to implement change into a business area and supporting employees and managers through the change process.
The veracity of change fatigue in organizations has prompted these organizations to hire the services of consultants and internal change experts. Services of consultants are sought with a view to delivering change within different environments as well as understanding the methodology and the psychology of change management. These consultants lead, manage, support, and advice on change. Consultants support individuals and teams. Change fatigue experienced in myriad organizations comes about when change is approached in the wrong way. Leaders try to implement change but in the process end up burning out their employees and creating a sense of frustration in these organizations. Organizations, in their bid to implement change, end up burning out their employees when change efforts are unfocussed, uninspired, and unsuccessful. Leaders who approach change as a shift from point A to point B. encounter market changes that make them realize that point B. should not be their ultimate destination (Ferguson, 2011). Employees are in the process called to constantly alter their behaviors and take on additionally taxing responsibilities without receiving extra resources or relief from any of their responsibilities. These employees lack clear sense of where their organization is heading to. The role they are supposed to play in the transition, and the elements of change that should be their top priorities. The fact that organizations tend to launch multiple change initiatives even when their current projects are in motion serves to worsen the situation. Whirlwind of projects that many companies engage in make employees confused not knowing which projects to give priority. They end up getting overwhelmed with work and cope with a false sense of urgency. This is something that happens with many organizations at present (Ferguson, 2011).
Change fatigue has also spread its tentacles to the realms of medical health services. A friend of mine was going to be operated on at a local hospital and I therefore decided to be with her throughout the whole process. Reflecting on the things I saw on that day at the hospital I came to realize that the hospital staff was so caring and made my friend feel safe something…