The pace of change is wearing down finance teams, so finance leaders must navigate both big and small changes to protect employees’ mental energy, according to Gartner, Inc.
“When employees go through periods of heavy change, particularly as we are experiencing this year with COVID-19, it takes more effort to meet the same expectations for timelines, quality and quantity of work,” said Tamara Shipley, vice president in the Gartner Finance practice. “Over time, excessive effort breaks down employees’ mental energy, leading to change resistance and turnover.”
A Gartner, Inc. study of 499 finance and shared services employees in January 2020 showed that half (49%) reported low mental energy related to coping with changes.
“Low mental energy means change fatigued employees who are half as likely to be committed to remain at the organization and three times more likely to resist change,” said Ms. Shipley.
While many companies endorse change management, efforts center on making big changes successful. And big changes comprise only 4% of the changes that impact employees. The research showed that the biggest impact on employee mental energy could be gained by supporting employees through the effect of small changes which make up 96% of the changes employees need to cope with.
Gartner defines a big change as a sizable disruption such as M&A, a new job, an RPA implementation or major system upgrade. Gartner defines a small change as a lesser disruption that is typically handled on an individual or local level. For example: an incremental update to a tool, new expense submission requirements, or a co-worker leaves or joins the team. Only about a third of leaders perform key support activities for smaller change (see Figure 1.)