Ways to prevent business slowdown caused by change fatigue

Businesses are facing more changes every year, and it seems like employees are less okay with it.  

Here’s some ideas of how you can approach this from a business/people perspective. Whether you are a business leader or a HR professional, change management and change fatigue is defintely something that you have come into contact with.  

A lot of companies are dealing with a “change crisis” right now. 

Back in 2016, companies dealt with about two big changes a year, like getting new leaders, setting up a new system or bringing in a new service or something similar. 

But by 2022, that number shot up to about ten big changes a year – things like reshuffling how the company works, introducing new tech, or telling everyone to come back to the office. 

While it’s normal for businesses to change more as things get more complicated, what’s not normal is that employees aren’t as cool with it as they used to be (74% in 2016 to 38% in 2022). 

There is a general sense of uncertainty in the world, politically, financially and the riple of these onto businesses, really impacts too.  

If companies want to try new developments, grow, and do things differently, having a team that’s super tired of changes will slow things down substantially. But the good news is that being aware of this and implementing a plan to address this is definitely an advantage.  

Change fatigue can really impact how people work and how companies do. 

It can make people feel all sorts of ways towards the company they work for, from annoyed to not caring, to productivity decline, to increased safety issues, to really impacting their personal wellbeing and mental health 

And that can mean people do less, do worse, and want to leave the company. 

To keep change fatigue away, companies need to build lots of trust with their employees and make sure teams work well together. 

One way to do this is by doing open-source change management. This is when everyone knows what’s happening and gets to be part of the plan. 

There are three main things to open-source change management:  

  1. Everyone helps make decisions,  
  2. Everyone helps plan,  
  3. And everyone can talk about change 

Companies that did this saw change fatigue go down by up to 29%, 

And people were almost 50% more willing to change in those companies. 

But one big reason why this doesn’t work in companies is that people don’t feel safe. 

If people don’t feel safe, even the best change plans won’t work. 

When people feel safe, change fatigue goes down by 46%.  

But there’s a catch. Developing safety is closely linked to culture.  

People need two kinds of safety:  

  • Safety to try new initiative  
  • Safety to say when initiatives are not working 

“People need to feel safe to try new stuff when things are changing. They need that if they’re going to help out, do more, and make things better. 

“There’s a big role for HR to make sure people feel safe to try new stuff.” 

Woolrich tells about Mercadolibre, a company in Argentina. 

They made a way for employees to make 90% of decisions themselves. Only 10% got sent up the chain. 

Employees had to ask themselves three things before sending something up: 

Can it be undone? Is it easy to fix if it’s wrong? Will it not mess things up too much? If they could say yes to all three, they could make the decision. But they had rules to follow, like how fast they had to make decisions and how to tell everyone. 

“When things are changing a lot, employees should know what’s safe to try.” 

People also need to feel safe to say when things aren’t working, says Woolrich. 

But not even half of people feel safe to do that, he says. 

“There’s a big job for HR here too. 


“We need to make sure it’s okay to say when things aren’t working. That way, our leaders know what’s really going on and can make things better.” 


But there need to be rules. Woolrich talks about a company in the US. 

They let their employees say what was dumb about the rules and how to fix them. 

“They didn’t just let anyone talk. They made sure it was people who knew what they were talking about.” 

HR needs to help everyone understand what needs to change, says Woolrich. That way, everyone can change fast and get things done. 

It’s worth spending time on, because if your people don’t like the changes, it’ll slow down your company’s plans. 


Need help with all this change stuff at work? THE PROVEN GROUP can help you understand how it all works with their change management short course.