Skip to main content

15Five acquires Emplify and relaunches human-centered platform Learn more

How to Communicate Change in the Workplace (Without Disrupting the Waters)


Believe me, we totally get it. As a leader, asking for employee feedback is scaaaary.

You have to figure out what questions to ask.

You have to get people to answer your questions.

Then, once you’ve conquered all of that, you still have to figure out what to do with all of the data. And when you do, your job still isn’t done.

Because if you ask the right questions, there will probably be important organizational changes to make—ones you’ll need to communicate to your employees.

They could question your motives. They might feel like you got it “wrong.”

Communicating change in the workplace isn’t easy for anyone, but it can have big payoffs. Along with factoring in employee input for better decision making, you’ll have a much easier time communicating during organizational change.

At 15five, we rely heavily on employee feedback and have discovered three key components to communicating changes—without disrupting the waters. As with most human interactions, it comes back to simple strategies based on transparency and communication.


How to Communicate Change in the Workplace in 3 Steps

Your secret weapon during organizational change? Effective communication. Here are three reliable steps for taking action on employee feedback in ways that will produce positive outcomes instead of employee angst:


1. Use data to support your changes

Can you see this happening? Your CFO is presenting financials to the board of directors, explaining that his “gut” is telling him a new approach will improve performance. Or your CMO has a “hunch” that a recent marketing campaign is performing well.

Not a chance.

The same goes for your employees.

You might have a hunch that something’s not right in your organization, but if you want employees to respond positively to any culture-related changes you make as a result, you’ll first need to validate instincts with data.

The best way to achieve this? Start with a psychometrically valid employee survey. Then, when you go to analyze the results, you’ll be able to segment the data by teams, locations, or other variables to determine exactly where to take action.


2. Be transparent about your decision-making process

It’s one thing to tell employees that you’ve been gathering feedback.

It’s another to show them.

While we recommend keeping employee surveys 100% confidential, that doesn’t mean you can’t share aggregated results. For example, if an overwhelming number of employees said they’d like to see more consistent work schedules, use screenshots to show the percentage of people who said it would boost their productivity when you tell staff why you’re changing a remote work policy.

As long as there’s no way to identify or single-out individual employees, showcasing examples of actual, anonymous answers in company-wide emails, presentations, or other announcements will help instill a sense of trust that your decision is rooted in the needs of your workforce.


3. Follow up for further feedback

Sometimes, acting on employee feedback will be straightforward. Other times, you’ll need to dig for more data. An employee survey will tell you that something’s wrong, but it’s up to you to drill down and figure out how to solve the problem.

It simply requires asking your employees.

For example, here’s how one of our customers handled this situation in what we like to call a post-survey employee feedback action plan. When an initial survey revealed that 20% of employees didn’t feel they were receiving enough training, leaders used a quick mobile poll to find out what types of training opportunities they’d like to see.

They not only communicated that a change was underway, but empowered employees to be a part of the decision-making process.

Unlock the true potential of your people.

Get Started