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How to Communicate Job Changes to Employees

written by: N Nayab•edited by: Linda Richter•updated: 5/20/2011

The changing nature of business and the increasing importance of human resources make communications assume center stage in an organization. A common underlying feature of successful organizations is efficient, seamless communication. Read on to find out how to communicate job changes to employees.

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    A crucial yet very often underestimated and ignored factor in organizational behavior is communicating job changes to employees. Job changes usually follow performance appraisals or evaluations, but can also occur otherwise. They happen during times of change brought about by organizational restructuring, layoffs during tough economic times, promotions or job reassignments to take advantage of sudden windfalls or new opportunities, and other situations arising out of human resource trends.

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    Communication Methods

    How to communicate job changes to employee?

    Traditional communication methods in organizations have been limited to

    • verbal messages, usually face to face or through telephone
    • printed notices on the notice board
    • letters or memos, delivered in person, included with pay stubs, or sent to the employees' addresses
    • printed bulletins and newsletters

    Today’s electronic age has revolutionized ways of communicating with employees. The new forms of communications that have replaced much of the traditional methods include

    • email
    • instant message chats
    • text messages through mobile phones
    • messages and announcements through online company forums or intranet

    Formal communications affecting the employee on a personal level, such as offer letters, promotion letters, layoff notice, job re-classification notice, and others still require a traditional communication method such as a face-to-face meeting followed by a formal letter.

    Developing comprehensive policies and manuals and updating them regularly is a good way to communicate job changes of a general nature, such as a change in work processes applicable to all employees.

    Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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    Effective Communication Mechanisms

    Irrespective of the situation, change causes anxiety and stress amongst the workforce owing to the uncertainties involved. Effective employee communication helps organizations mitigate the negative fallout of such anxiety and stress.

    Changes in designation, salary, location, and the like require written communication, whereas changes in job description and job profile require a detailed session with the manager communicating to the employee the new expectations, and with the employee resolving doubts. Such communication needs to remain ongoing until the employee has settled in the new role.

    Changes of a less serious nature, such as changes in daily work routine, minor adjustments in work schedule and targets, or others can take the form of electronic communications such as email and intranet forums.

    The best form of communication regarding job expectation to an employee is a well-crafted job description. Periodic revision of the job description to reflect the changed conditions and requirements serve as timely reminders of job expectations and an opportunity for the employees to take stock and clarify doubts.

    Another forum to convey job change is the performance appraisal review. Many organizations revise job descriptions during the performance appraisal exercise. Periodic meetings, either as part of the performance appraisal exercise or otherwise, help keep job expectations in check and remain an effective way to communicate changes as and when they happen without needing to create a special occasion to communicate them.

    The key to organizational success lies in utilizing the most appropriate and effective employee communication mechanism at the disposal of the company, depending on the type and nature of the communication.

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    Best Practices

    One best practice when communicating changes to employees is communicating as early as possible. Changes create confusion and doubts leading to stress and anxiety, which in turn impair performance and undermine stability and integrity of the organizational systems and processes. Early communication of expected changes facilitates seamless change by withering away the resistance to change, reducing uncertainty, and giving employees time to prepare for the transition by equipping themselves with the necessary resources.

    A common mistake made by employers when addressing the question of how to communicate job changes to employees is communicating the decisions without explaining the rationale or the factors involved in making the change decision. Avoidance of the underlying issues behind change creates the same harm that not communicating the change in time does, causing anxiety, stress, and uncertainty among the workforce and providing scope for rumor mills to create more damage and potentially lead to a dysfunctional organization. Good communication requires employers to explain the change decisions in depth and answer questions related to such changes to allay employee concerns.

    The style of communication plays a major role in effective communication of job changes to employees. The best communications have a positive tone, which motivates employees. Communication of changes in job profile, descriptions, and others require a positive tone and need to convey the impression that such changes are the harbinger of good times ahead. The use of simple and easy to understand language and a direct grammatical structure eliminates scope for misunderstanding.

    The best form of communication is a two-way interactive and ongoing communication that encourages open and healthy discussions and leaves no scope for misunderstanding, rumors, and gossips; it eliminates stress and anxiety.