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Top 5 Best Practices in Change Communications

Change is not just a reality for every modern organisation, but a necessity. Allowing us to innovate, to stay productive, and crucially, to drive growth. 

It comes in all shapes and sizes too. From something as simple as upgrading the office vending machines all the way through to a complex rollout of new hardware and software to thousands of staff. But no matter how big or small these changes are, they have one thing in common: all require people to do something in a new way; to adapt or modify their behaviour. 

For the changes to take effect successfully, employees need to be aware of what is going on, support the initiative, and understand how they will need to perform tasks in the future. They do this through effective communication.  

So what does effective communication in change really look like? Our Change Managers and Comms experts have come together to share their best practice tips and tricks. 


Best Practice Tips For Effective Change Communication  

An estimated 70% of all business change projects fail. Leading to financial losses, employee frustration, and wasted time. But by ensuring proper communication throughout, you can keep your project on course for success. Here’s how: 


1. Communicate early  

Getting the timing right for your comms is crucial to the success of a change project. For a change to be a success, people need to feel informed. 

No one wants to be told that a big change is coming the day before it happens; it’s unsettling, and will ultimately lead to project failure.  

Instead, set out your schedule of communications, allowing for plenty of time before the change happens. The bigger the change, the more time you should allow. Smaller changes which require smaller adjustments in behaviour, need less time and notice. But a large organisation-wide change will take longer, so be sure to keep this in mind. 

Keep your people ‘in the loop’ throughout too, with continual updates as the programme progresses.  

It can also be effective to tell people about the things that aren’t changing, helping to reassure staff. 

2. Use a range of channels  

In the modern workplace, there are a huge range of communications channels available to you. Different people will prefer to receive messages on different platforms too, so it’s important you use a range of channels to get your message across.  

It allows for better coverage, and ensures messages don’t slip through the net. For example if someone has missed an email, they might pick it up on the internal newsletter.   

You might consider the following comms channels: 

  • Direct email 
  • Internal newsletters  
  • Video messages  
  • Microsoft Teams 
  • Intranet 
  • Viva Engage (formerly Yammer)
  • Presentations / meetings / townhalls / show and tell sessions 

You could also consider physical items too, such as:  

  • Posters and flyers 
  • Digital screens 
  • Printed merchandise   

Remember, there’s no harm in people seeing messages twice, across multiple platforms. For a large-scale change, this will only lead to improved exposure and understanding.


3. Involve your senior leaders

Senior leaders within your organisation have influence. They can be real drivers of behaviour and culture change.  

Best practice states that employees want to hear about changes from two people: who they report to, and the leader at the top. Getting that buy in from your senior leader can prove crucial for the success of the project.  

There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to how to get your senior leaders involved in the change communications; it will depend how your organisation works best. However, you could consider: 

  • Video messages 
  • Personalised emails 
  • CEO Newsletters  
  • Quotes 
  • In person presentations  

It’s been proven in research too, with a PROSCI report that asked participants to identify key contributors to the success of their change initiatives, placed active sponsorship at the top of the list. 

You could consider creating communications specifically for Line Managers to send out too, helping to cascade and reiterate your change message. 


4. Focus on the benefits

One of the key things you can do to ensure successful change comms is to focus on the benefits for people affected. Naturally, people think about how a change affects them personally before they consider the wider organisational implications.  

Answering the "what's in it for me?" question early on is best practice to mitigate any distressing feelings that come from change, and ensure people fully understand the positives.  

People need to understand how the change will make their role easier, or support them in their work, but it’s important not to assume that the benefits for one group will be the same for another. It's likely that the change will impact different people at different times in the project, and at different ways. So it's good to understand which groups or audiences will be affected and when. And then tailor the comms messages to really speak to them and their needs. 


5. Ask for feedback - and listen to it 

There is so much to think about during an organisational change that many organisations overlook one key element: listening.  

It can be beneficial to employ a continuous feedback loop: a process that allows employees to give feedback and raise issues as they arise, rather than keeping hold of them all to share down the line. 

How does a feedback loop work? 

  1. Ask employees for feedback via surveys, suggestion boxes or questionnaires
  2. Analyse the feedback to pick out key trends
  3. Respond or action the feedback – allowing you to use a “you said, we did” approach in comms
  4. Improve project outcomes and employee satisfaction 

Asking for feedback within your comms during various key touch points during a project is essential. Helping you to understand employee sentiment, project successes, and any key roadblocks.  

It’s important that the feedback raised is addressed, and actioned if appropriate. The loop then continues as employees are willing to continue sharing their feedback, because they can see it’s been listened to.  

Feedback can be gold dust in change programmes, and shows that people are engaged in some way.  


Next steps: How to start my change communication strategy 

Ensuring you have a comms strategy in place before embarking on your change project is key to success. Defining what you want to say, when, and to which groups. Hable’s team of Change Managers and Communications experts have worked with some of the biggest organisations in the country to help them successfully communicate their change projects. From NHS England to Nissan, Kingston University to Westminster City Council. 

With an approach that takes the complex and make it simple, our Change Comms service helps you land the right message and drive the desired outcome.  

Inform. Inspire. Engage.

Start your change communications strategy today.

Reach out to our experts to find out how we can help.

Email our Change Communications team