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Tbag's avatar

Why is it that sometimes employees resist change in a company or their work environment?

Asked by Tbag (2387 points ) March 24th, 2012

Would it be the fear of losing their jobs, or fear of the unknown?

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11 Answers

Bellatrix's avatar

Both. I think many people can generally be resistant to change. They may enjoy their work and their work environment and they are worried they will not be able to adapt to the changes or that they won’t like things after the changes have taken place. It may also be about their lack of control over the process.

Often organisations manage change very badly. They don’t involve employees sufficiently so they feel the change is being done to them and that they have no control. If the organisation gives them input and some ownership over the change process, people may adapt better.

JustPlainBarb's avatar

Change can be very unsettling to some. We feel comfortable with routine .. sometimes that clouds our vision concerning change. If things appear to be working and we’re used to them .. at first glance, we would wonder why change them?

I agree that people might fear for their jobs if they see change affecting them negatively. That’s an all too common theme on today’s economy .. so you can’t blame people for being paranoid about that.

It’s a personality thing too .. some people love new things and challenges .. and others like the “status quo” whenever possible.

filmfann's avatar

People at work don’t like change. They expect that whatever they have is part of the deal, and usually change means something different, and usually less.
If you want to see a group of people get upset for very little reason, just change the way they can park their cars at work. You can create a major work stoppage.

tedibear's avatar

To add to what has already been said, sometimes the change isn’t for the better. I work part-time for a bank and over a year ago we switched to a different teller system. What we had previously was bad, and in many ways, this is worse. I won’t go into all of it, but suffice it to say that if we were going to change, we could have changed to something better. While I don’t know all of the reasons for this decision, I can say that most end users dislike the system and there was no consultation with any of them about the product. Maybe that would help – involve employees in what changes should/could be. Get their buy in and maybe resistance will be lowered.

marinelife's avatar

For the same reason that people resist change. Fear of the unknown.

linguaphile's avatar

At work, I often hear the phrase, “This is the way it has always been done.” I have to laugh (internally, of course) because I know how untrue that is, but it is usually said in defense to a new idea.

At my workplace, whenever there’s a new way to do something, people get really bent out of kilter because they have to get off autopilot and develop new ways to think and communicate and have to pay attention to what they’re doing to adjust to the new person, new method, new protocol or whatever.

When I first started at my workplace, I was the first outsider that they had hired in years and they were extremely impatient with my questions. My department secretary even said to me, “I hate new people. They’re so much work.” Since that time, about 15 outsiders have been hired and I tend to be the one who takes the lead in acclimatizing them—I don’t want them to go through the same sour-pusses that I encountered!

dabbler's avatar

Sometimes the change being proposed is stupid. A new manager comes in and has to make his/her mark, so they start by changing something anything. I’ve seen that so many times, I view propsed changes with serious scepticism until I see all the reasoning.
When it looks like problems will be solved I’m on board even if it means extra work.

I think the extra work is the biggest reason people resist change whether it will ultimately benefit them or not.

Of course when I propose changes, people should see the brilliance of the idea, just sayin’.

jerv's avatar

Often the change is stupid and many times arbitrary as well. Many changes are seen as merely management trying to assert authority over employees, especially since most changes are fucking retarded.

I am fortunate enough to work someplace that is largely immune to that as the VP/Co-Founder knows enough about just about every job in teh plant to ask if a particular change is even possible, let alone feasible. One of our new engineers, however… he has yet to learn that his proposals cut production by up to 90% in some cases, which in turn causes a bottleneck in scheduling, which in turn creates the sort of problems you would expect, all because he is having a power trip, and wants to let us know that engineers have more executive power than machinists by disrupting things and trying to change how some things have been done almost since the company’s founding decades ago.

Again, stupid changes done on a whim/ego trip cause resentment and resistance.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Cause they have to learn something new.

jerv's avatar

@Dutchess_III Often, a change is proposed by people who were not there the last time we tried things that way and/or otherwise don’t know why something is a bad idea. For instance, I run my machine at work slower than some people like sometimes. They figure that they can increase production speed by 20–35% by running it to the point where stuff breaks often enough to actually reduce production speed while simultaneously increasing tooling costs. A set of ceramic inserts for my cutter runs almost $90; if a small increase in cutting speed makes me break five sets instead of burning up two, that costs the company a lot more than having the job take an extra hour.
Sometimes change is the result of management refusing to learn, and I’ve seen that almost as often as workers resistance to change due to resistance to learning something new. Again, it boils down to whether the change actually makes things better.

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