Less Than Two-thirds of Manufacturing Leaders Consider Their People When Making Organisational Changes


Traditional change management practices fail to prioritise employees

Organisational changes are commonplace, from changes in management structure and departmental responsibilities through to implementing a new organisation-wide IT platform. However, latest research from O.C. Tanner reveals that just 65 per cent of manufacturing leaders take their employees into account when deciding to enact business-wide changes. And only 59 per cent seek employee opinions as changes are rolled-out. These are the findings from O.C. Tanner’s 2024 Global Culture Report which gathered data and insights from more than 42,000 employees, leaders, HR practitioners, and executives from 27 countries worldwide including 3,583 from the manufacturing industry.

“Organisational changes can have far-reaching impacts on the workforce” says Robert Ordever, European MD of O.C. Tanner. “Regardless of whether these changes are strategic, structural, technological or people-centric, by not considering employees and seeking their feedback before rolling-out change, this is a recipe for disaster, potentially leading to widespread frustration, cynicism and disengagement!“

The Report suggests that traditional change management practices, which tend to be linear, top-down, and process-oriented, are no longer fit for our evolving work environments. They also fail to involve employees in the planning, thereby underestimating and under-prioritising the organisation’s people.

With this in mind, it’s no surprise that almost a third of manufacturing employees (30 per cent) believe that the organisational changes they have experienced were either poorly managed, or they were left feeling indifferent to how the changes were enacted.

Ordever says, “It’s crucial that an organisation’s people are the centre of change strategies. This approach will not only remove friction from change management processes, but will increase employee wellbeing and strengthen workplace culture.”

The Report recommends that effective change management must first start with nurturing a culture where employees have high trust and feel appreciated and valued. Decentralising the change management process so managers at all levels can be involved is also important, together with ensuring regular, transparent communications and that all employees have a voice.

When employees have a voice in organisational changes, they are eight times’ more likely to have feelings of trust, are five times’ more likely to have a sense of community and thriving at work is three times’ more likely.

Ordever adds, “The truth is that no organisational change is going to be effective or lasting without the buy-in of employees. And the sooner leaders recognise this and ensure the organisation’s people are always considered, the more successful any changes will be.”

About 2024 Global Culture Report

The O.C. Tanner Institute, O.C. Tanner’s research, analytics, and education team, uses multiple research methods to support the Global Culture Report, including interviews, focus groups, cross-sectional surveys, and a longitudinal survey.

Qualitative findings came from 18 focus groups among employees and leaders of larger organisations. The groups and interviews were held throughout 2022 and 2023, each representing various types of employers, including both private and public entities.

Quantitative findings came from online survey interviews administered to employees across Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The total sample size was 42,446 workers at companies with 500+ employees. The O.C. Tanner Institute collected and analysed all survey data. This sample is sufficient to generate meaningful conclusions about the cultures of organisations in the included countries. However, because the study does not include population data, results are subject to statistical errors customarily associated with sample-based information. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from the O.C. Tanner Institute.

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