Published on November 8, 2023, 11:23 pm

Employees have been navigating significant changes since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s safe to say that they are experiencing change fatigue. Gartner, a leading research and advisory firm, has identified four steps that chief information officers (CIOs) can take to alleviate employee fatigue and ensure the success of technological initiatives.

Daniel Sanchez-Reina, VP Analyst at Gartner, emphasized the toll that various workplace disruptions can have on employees. He noted that when employee fatigue is left unaddressed, it can significantly impact their performance and hinder technological advancements within an organization.

Change fatigue is a real issue that many organizations overlook in their change management plans. While they may focus on implementing cultural changes and devising sound strategies, they often fail to consider the negative effects of employee fatigue. Gartner defines change fatigue as the negative response employees have towards change, leading to apathy, burnout, frustration, and ultimately harming organizational outcomes.

Sanchez-Reina explained how fatigue can affect employees’ overall performance. It not only diminishes their ability to make decisions but also hampers their problem-solving skills and communication abilities.

To reduce change fatigue within organizations, CIOs should follow these four steps:

1. Treat change fatigue as a business issue: Gartner’s research revealed that eight out of 10 CIOs do not sufficiently address fatigue during discussions about business technology initiatives. It is crucial for CIOs to incorporate fatigue evaluation into their planning initiatives by engaging in conversations with business partners. These discussions should encompass understanding the level of effort required for each initiative and how to balance day-to-day tasks with transformative projects.

2. Distribute change leadership: Relying on a single leader who focuses solely on meeting project deadlines may result in limited visibility into the impact of worker fatigue. To combat this issue, CIOs should establish distributed leadership by assigning overseers and tactical decision-makers across different departments within the organization. This approach ensures closer contact with employees and the ability to change course when fatigue levels rise. Additionally, distributed leadership reduces the burden of decision-making, which is a significant stressor.

3. Co-create execution and involve stakeholders: Successful organizations involve both top executives and lower-level stakeholders in decision-making processes regarding change execution. This includes active participation from IT and business stakeholders in change management. By creating teams that encompass technical experts as well as representatives from all relevant functions, CIOs ensure that multiple perspectives are considered throughout the transition process. This diversity of thought contributes to greater cohesion among those involved in the change initiative.

4. Care about the emotions of change: Sanchez-Reina stressed the importance of acknowledging the emotional impact of change on employees. Positive or negative emotional experiences leave lasting impressions on individuals’ memories. Therefore, CIOs should focus on creating a track record of positive experiences by implementing initiatives such as listening sessions for employees to openly share their concerns. These dedicated forums replace informal venting moments and allow for more manageable resolution of concerns.

By implementing these four steps, CIOs can alleviate employee fatigue and enhance the success of technological initiatives within their organizations. Taking proactive measures to address change fatigue not only improves employee performance but also fosters a positive work environment conducive to sustainable growth.

In conclusion, CIOs must recognize the real challenges posed by change fatigue among employees. By treating it as a business issue, distributing leadership responsibilities, involving stakeholders in decision-making processes, and caring about employees’ emotions during times of change, organizations can minimize fatigue and maximize productivity and innovation.


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