change Image: NY Photographic

The majority of British businesses are planning to undergo significant workforce changes, including restructures, merges and acquisitions, office relocation or leadership change.

However, many are concerned about these changes, as a quarter of employees don’t believe their organisation will be able to take full advantage of these changes, according to new research.

Almost all UK businesses (94%) have recently or are due to undergo such changes, and this doesn’t look like it’s going to slow down, as four in five (85%) of research respondents expecting these changeable working conditions to continue unabated or even increase in the future.

The research by Lee Hecht Harrison | Penna found that when it comes to handling these fast paced changes, over a quarter of respondents (27%) said they feel senior management is currently lacking the skills and experience to successfully manage the transitions.

This isn’t surprising due to the fact that less than half (47%) of organisations are adequately prepping leaders and managers to manage change.

This lack of development can cause disengagement from the mission as a quarter of employees (25%) don’t believe their organisation will be able to take full advantage of business transformation,

whilst 41% of organisations cite losing their top talent during uncertain times as a reason for being unable to deliver business transformation plans successfully.

Nick Goldberg, CEO UK & Ireland of Lee Hecht Harrison | Penna, said: “While many may fear workforce change and the impact it has, this shouldn’t be the case. By embracing change, businesses stand to better serve their customers and transformation plans are ultimately designed to have a positive effect on the organisation’s financial performance. Yet our research has shown that inadequate leadership and talent planning means many businesses are not able to realise these benefits.

Although Britain’s economic future remains uncertain since the EU Referendum, the research also showed Brexit is not the main driving force for workforce change.

A third (33%) of workers cited technology as the biggest driver of change versus a quarter (26%) for Brexit. The much feared impact of the younger demographic (Generation Y and Z) is also not seen as a significant cause of change, with just over one in 10 (13%) attributing transformation to them.

The survey also identified insufficient preparation as the leading reason for weakness in talent management during times of change. Less than two in five (38%) organisations are assessing their talent requirements ahead of time.

Larger businesses (2,500 or more employees) appear to be finding workforce change the most challenging, with nearly a quarter (22%) thinking it is being managed and communicated poorly in their organisation. The figure drops to 8% in small businesses of 100-249 employees.

Mr. Goldberg added: “Organisations need to acknowledge this and then take the vital steps to future proof themselves. This should begin by developing change management capability in leaders and senior managers but at the same time facilitating a more effective relationship between the two groups, so they are ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’.

“The amount and rate of workforce change is only set to increase, therefore the quicker firms embrace this, the more they ensure they will be able to meet the headwinds they’ll face.”