Can employee habits be changed?
Can you imagine having to change the way you work overnight? Probably, it would be quite stressful. Whenever we intend to implement some changes, we should approach the matter carefully, making sure we engage all employees.
Can you think of a skill that took you a while to master? Parallel parking, for example. Probably, it took several attempts before you were finally able to find the way how to parallel park quickly and effortlessly. Now imagine someone told you to forget about your parallel parking technique. It would set you off, for sure! Why change something that works and seems efficient?
Old habits die hard
The same goes for our habits. And not just in our everyday activities – workplace habits are also firmly rooted in us. Let’s examine this statement on the case of paper documents. Why are we still so attached to paper and reluctant to switch to paperless operations.
Although the idea of paperless office is not new by any means, a large percentage of business is still paper based. Figures show that very few companies have managed to fully implement the paperless office idea.
Old habits die hard and we tend to dismiss in advance what we don’t know. So how shall we present new solutions to our staff they will embrace them and integrate them into their work?
The golden rules of implementing change
Notifying employees that they need to adopt a new way of working, without giving them any explanation or reason, will not help you effectively adopt change. Employee involvement is the best practice – give your staff an opportunity to express their thoughts as well as any reservations and concerns they may have.
#1 Tell the staff about the benefits of the new way of working
Attachment to paper is the result of our culture and the way of work we have grown accustomed to. Employees are reluctant to embrace change as they are often unaware and uninformed of the benefits it will bring.
#2 Figure out what the staff need to do their job
We all develop our workplace methods and when told about an alternative solution, we will dismiss it immediately. We don’t know whether with the new solution we will actually be able to find a way to do something as efficiently as before.
The implementing team should therefore have a profound understanding of the work done in a specific department. They must know what the employees need to do their job well and what are the requirements of each job position.
#3 Make sure your staff feel secure and in control
Give the staff a chance to express their wishes and needs in the early stages of developing a new solution. They have to know that they can count on the support of a qualified team that will present the solution in a simple and understandable manner so they can make sense of its implementation.
Fear and aversion kick in when we are unable to picture the new reality and have little idea of how to implement the new solution into our process. We only feel in control and on top of things when we follow a standardized procedure. Hence, any change about to be implemented is sure to shake our system to the core.
#4 Involve employees in implementing change
Make sure employees are involved in all stages of change implementation. They can actively participate in the design, setting up and during integration, and be fully supported by the technical team when the solution is already in place. It might happen that the change will not work from the start or will prove less useful than initially expected. Employees have to know that their wishes, needs and proposals will be heard and taken into account.
#5 Place the change into a big picture
Show the employees the big picture and explain how the change, i.e. the new solution, will (positively) affect their productivity and simplify the workflow. Make them feel in control and give them enough information so they can embrace and embody the novelties.
Optimistic about the paperless future
I am quite optimistic about implementing paperless office as I was involved in our company’s transition to paperless. Although we had to resolve many challenges and doubts, we are proud to say that with the right approach the project has delivered excellent results.
At Mikrocop’s latest IT conference, Primož Zupan, CEO of MBILLS, said that it was very important for the company to be open to change and have a responsible person driving the change, being able to connect all the initiatives and proposed changes and weave them into a (digital) success story.
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