Article | Adaptive Spaces

A Brief Introduction to Change Management

June 15, 2023


Company Culture | Employee Engagement | Productivity | Resilience

The business world has undergone a profound transformation over the last few years, and the field of change management has developed rapidly in response. COVID-19 was the primary catalyst for this, forcing companies to make drastic changes in areas that had a considerable impact on their staff. 

The kind of large-scale changes that companies want to make are limitless and can involve everything from switching office software or moving into a new building, to overseeing the introduction of a new product, or shifting focus to a new market. What all these things have in common is that they require significant behavioral change from employees, and with such expectations come worries and concerns. Perhaps less tech-savvy employees feel trepidation about getting to grips with a new computer system. Or maybe the relocation to a more modern building has added half an hour to several employees’ commute. In either case, clear communication and employee engagement are essential and must be delivered at the right stage, at the right time, and to the right people in order to ensure a successful transformation. 

No matter what kind of change a company is making, its eventual success largely depends on whether employees embrace it or not. One of the best ways to make sure they do is to talk when people are ready to listen, communicating (i.e., one-way) with information updates, and via engagement (i.e., two-way) when it comes to more complex changes. It means having the kind of company culture that communicates clearly to workers why the change is being made. 

But what is employee engagement, anyway? It is not just about creating a great workplace design, installing advanced technologies, or making staff happy; having regular office parties and fun company outings isn’t guaranteed to result in greater productivity or make staff go the extra mile. Instead, employee engagement should be viewed as how emotionally committed an employee is to the company. Do they have the willingness to adapt and transform their mindset to understand how they can work differently to perform better? The answer to this lies in an organization’s company culture.


Why Company Culture Matters

At its simplest, company culture represents the shared beliefs of an organization. It’s true that a company’s values, aims, and processes all contribute to its overall culture, but it’s more complex than that. Top-down, company culture is influenced by everything from policy to the physical work environment, and bottom-up from things like how workers behave while in the office.  An organization with a unified outlook provides a basis for mutual understanding and improves communication between everyone who works there. As already mentioned, COVID-19 imposed significant changes on businesses in almost every industry. But even a relatively minor change can result in concern and fear among employees if the transition isn’t implemented in the right way. Organizations with effective employee engagement and a culture that nurtures a company-wide set of beliefs can more easily reduce anxiety among staff, increase company resilience, and ultimately lead to greater productivity.

How Change Management Works

Change management must identify where an organization’s culture is right now. That means looking at what employees believe and if their beliefs align with those of management and the company more broadly. Whatever changes a company has in mind should support the culture that’s already in place. The changes may encompass areas as wide-ranging as learning and development, recruitment, performance reviews, and bonus payments, but in the long-term they will create a lasting resilience.

It should go without saying that changing company culture is exceptionally difficult without the kind of authentic employee engagement that includes everyone in an organization. Involving staff in the transition is important because that means inspiring and supporting change, rather than just managing it. Allowing employees to share opinions and ideas aids productivity and creates a feeling of excitement. Strategies that feel right and improve people’s lives make staff more emotionally invested in their workplace. 

It would be hard to overstate just how important clear communication is during a change management program. Making sure that employees and management are all ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’ is fundamental to the process. This means painting a clear picture of the end result and using language and imagery that ensure employees understand the benefits of the transition. There will inevitably be frustration and concern among staff during a big change, but effective change management recognizes the importance of educating staff on changes and leveraging that passion into something positive.


Company culture is vital in modern business because organizations that value operational efficiency above all else don’t last long in a world that rewards adaptability and innovativeness, and the resilience that comes with an effective change management program is essential to success in the 21st century business environment. 

To learn more about how change management can help your organization, contact CBRE.