Poor organisational change management

Poor organisational change management means changes that are poorly planned, communicated, supported or managed. 

It is more than an unpopular change at work. Poor change management becomes a hazard when it is severe (e.g. very poor management), prolonged (e.g. long term) or frequent (e.g. happens often). 

Poor organisational change management may include:

  • not consulting on changes (e.g. not talking to workers or genuinely considering their views)
  • not thinking about how a change may impact WHS risks or workers’ performance (e.g. not allowing extra time to do things while workers learn a new process)
  • poorly planned changes (e.g. changes are disorganised or do not have a clear goal)
  • changes are poorly communicated (e.g. information about the changes isn’t provided or is unclear), or
  • not enough support for the changes (e.g. not training workers on how to use new tools). 

Identifying and assessing the risks of poor organisational change management

You must identify if psychosocial hazards, including poor organisational change management, are present in your workplace. 

  • Consult workers. Workers may talk about hazards in different ways. For example, they may say they feel stressed, frustrated or ignored. They may raise concerns about changes including its impact or how it was done.
  • Use surveys and tools. Businesses with more than 20 workers may find the People at Work psychosocial risk assessment tool useful. 
  • Observe work and behaviours. For example, tasks taking longer than expected, gossip, or frequent mistakes or confusion can be caused by poor change management.  
  • Review available information. For example, records of overtime, time off, injuries, incidents or workers’ compensation.
  • Have a way for workers to report and encourage reporting. Treating workers’ concerns seriously and respectfully will help encourage reporting.
  • Identify other hazards present and consider them together. Hazards can interact and combine to create new, changed or higher risks. For example, poor change management may create a higher risk in workplaces with a lack of role clarity if workers are already unclear on who does what. 
  • Consider how long, how often and how severely workers are exposed to hazards. The longer, more often and worse the poor change management the higher the risk that workers may be harmed. 

Controlling poor organisational change management

You must eliminate psychosocial risks, or if that is not reasonably practicable, minimise them so far as is reasonably practicable. For example:

  • A PCBU must consult with workers who are, or are likely to be, affected by a WHS matter.
  • Allow for a change period when setting work plans (e.g. allow more time to do new tasks until workers get used to them).
  • Ensure changes are reasonable and fair (e.g. distribute work fairly).
  • Provide practical support for changes (e.g. provide training on how to do new tasks and access to the right equipment).
  • Provide clear, authoritative information about upcoming changes as soon as possible and keep workers up to date.
  • Ensure workers understand the changes and why they’re happening.
  • Tell customers and suppliers about the changes and any impacts (e.g. warn customers in advance if they may have to wait longer for an order).
  • Be empathetic to any frustration and help with any challenges.
  • Encourage workers to engage with consultation and change management processes.

When choosing control measures you must consider all the hazards present and how they may interact and combine. For information on other hazards see psychosocial hazards.  

Reviewing control measures 

You must review control measures to check they are working as planned. If a control measure is not improving change management or is creating new risks, you must make changes.

For more information on meeting your WHS duties see our mental health page.