7 Reasons Why Employees Resist Change

As business owners, leaders and supervisors, we are often excited by change. New technologies, marketing strategies and team members are things that can help our companies achieve their goals. However, it never feels the same because of the change. Sometimes change can be difficult for some people around you. Specifically, your employees.

Employees can often be resistant to change within an organization. This resistance can negatively affect a business in many ways. Reduced productivity and poor performance are one of the first negative impacts that can happen. Employee turnover can also increase if employees do not respond well to change. Resistance to change also causes conflict and can lead to employees do not behave well within the organization.

Understanding why employees resist change is essential for leaders to effectively manage the change process and ensure a smooth transition. In this article, we’ll take a look at the top 8 reasons why employees resist change.

Uncertainty and fear

One of the main reasons why employees resist change is uncertainty and fear. However, this is not exclusive to employees. Humans generally do not respond well to change. Change can mean many things that humans interpret as negative.

Change can disrupt everything and create an environment of uncertainty. This can lead to feelings of fear and anxiety among employees. They may fear how the change will affect their roles within the organization. This fear can lead to resistance as employees try to protect themselves and their interests.

As a leader, it is your responsibility to try to answer as many questions as possible to reassure your team. Acknowledge the fear they may feel. It would also help you share any fears you may have. Doing so will help show some empathy that can help alleviate some of the fear your employees feel.

Lack of understanding

Another reason why employees resist change is a lack of understanding. Employees may not fully understand the reasons for the change or the benefits it will bring. If employees don’t understand the reasons for the change or how it will benefit them, why would they want to participate? Leaders must communicate clear and transparent about the reasons for the change and how it will benefit employees.

Communicate clearly to them what is happening and how it will affect them. Create online presentations, manuals and slide shows, if needed. Also, hold team and individual meetings to make sure employees understand what’s going on.

Loss of control

When changes are made within an organization, employees may feel that they are losing control of their work environment. Because the human brain likes to be in control, this can create anxiety and resistance. In addition, employees may feel that they are not included in the decision-making process. This can also lead to a feeling of exclusion and resistance to the changes being implemented.

One of the things you can do when employees resist change is to involve them in the process. Give employees accountability when they feel in control of some of the changes. Be sure to ask for feedback throughout the process to see if your fear subsides.

Security in employment

When employers mention change, most employees worry about one thing: their jobs. In 2022, major tech companies began communicating the changes that were coming in 2023. Many of these changes involved laying off employees. By early 2023, major tech companies had done just that laid off nearly 130,000 workers. It’s no wonder that when startups, small businesses, and even non-tech companies use the word “change,” employees get nervous.

Expect employees to be concerned about their job security when you bring up the topic of change. If the change you’re planning to implement won’t result in job losses, reassure your team. However, if layoffs are a possibility, be open and honest about it. Do everything you can keep your top talent for the sake of your customers. But make sure all employees know if their job security is at risk so they can prepare themselves and their families in advance.

Endowment effect

People have an irrational love for the things they own. Even a certain job, software or position. The endowment effect refers to the psychological phenomenon in which people tend to overvalue objects, goods, or possessions they already own, compared to the value they would assign to the same object if they did not own it. In other words, people place a higher value on things just because they own them. Some studies have done this demonstrated that human managers consistently overvalue their personal possessions. Although they haven’t owned them in a while.

Your employees may be accustomed to their desks, computers, programs, and processes they use every day. Even though some of these things belong to the company, employees still have a sense of ownership. Their resistance to change may be because they value what they have more than they should.

Take the time to make them aware of the good the changes will bring. Encourage the comparison between the old and the new. These things will help your employees adapt to the change and begin to bond with the new instead of clinging to the old.

Possible cultural change

We all know that culture is an important part of a successful company. Building a winning culture is not easy. So when a change may also mean a change in company culture, employees may be hesitant. Change in company culture can play an important role in employee resistance to change.

In addition, in some organizations there may be a culture of resistance to change. This is where employees are conditioned to resist any change that is made. This type of culture can create a sense of complacency, where employees are comfortable with the status quo and don’t want to disrupt it. In these cases, leaders must work to create a culture of openness and adaptability. There must be a culture where employees are encouraged to embrace change and given the necessary support to do so.

Lack of trust

Another reason your employees resist change may not be their fault. It may be the leadership’s fault. If you and your leadership team have not done well in the past to prepare employees for change, they will have little faith in your ability to do so again. A lack of trust will perpetuate your employees’ resistance to change.

Trust is essential to any successful change management initiative. If employees do not trust their leaders, they are less likely to be receptive to change. Therefore, leaders must build trust with their employees by being transparent, communicating effectively, and providing opportunities for employee input.

Here are some of the reasons why you may have lost the trust of your employees when it comes to making changes:

  • A history of making decisions that negatively affect employees
  • Lack of transparency
  • Little communication
  • Slow or non-existent tracking

The best time to start building (or rebuilding) trust is right away. Acknowledge past mistakes and show that you are committed to not making the same mistakes. This should help you be your team moving forward.


Employee resistance to change is a common challenge organizations face when implementing new processes, technologies or strategies. Although resistance to change is natural, it can impede progress and hinder organizational growth if not addressed effectively. Leaders must understand the causes and implement solutions if they want their organizations to change with the times.

Thomas Martin

Tom is a member of the StartUp Mindset editorial team. He has over 6 years of experience writing about business, entrepreneurship and other topics. It mainly focuses on online businesses, digital publishing, marketing and e-commerce startups.

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Item tags:

Business Opportunities · Company Culture · Featured · Grow Your Business · Leadership · Productivity

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Find your way · Grow your business · Lead your team · Productivity · Your mindset

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Change is a necessary part of any growing organization, and can be an exciting vision of the future. However, some companies struggle to ensure that employees properly embrace and implement the changes that come their way. Achieving successful transformation of any organization can be a challenging task. Here are seven reasons why employees may resist change and how organizations like Ikaroa can help.

1. Fear: Change can be intimidating. Fear of the unknown form of a potential change can make employees scared or hesitant to pursue the new path.

2. Unclear Reasons: It can be difficult to adjust to a change whose purpose is not well-understood by the employees. If the objectives or goals of the change process are not clearly communicated to employees, this can lead to confusion and resistance.

3. Lack of Relevant Training: Without access to the proper training and resources, employees may not feel equipped to handle the changes. If staff have not been trained in these new skills, they may be reluctant to move forward with the change.

4. Too Much Too Soon: If an organization rolls out too many changes in a short amount of time, employees tend to get overwhelmed and struggle to keep up.

5. Financial Insecurity: Financial instability caused by changes can lead to employees feeling uncertain and scared, which can lead to a resistance to change.

6. Not Included in the Decision-Making Process: When employees are not involved in the decision-making process, they are less likely to feel invested in the organization. Not being consulted or considered in the decision can lead to the employee not feeling respected or valued, thus resulting in a lack of motivation to embrace change.

7. No Flexibility in the Process: A lack of flexibility in the change process can lead to resistance and stagnation. Having an idea of the end goal but allowing it to evolve and adapt over time can increase the likelihood of successful change.

Organizations like Ikaroa understand that embracing change is not always simple or painless, but with the right tools and guidance, successful transformation is achievable. Organizations must work to provide the proper training and resources to employees and make sure that the goals and objectives of the change are clearly communicated. Including employees in the decision-making process and allowing for flexibility in the process will help create an environment of trust, respect, and understanding that ultimately leads to successful transformation.


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