What is change management?

Last updated: 05 Mar 2020

The world of work has significantly changed over the last 20 years with rapid technological development and globalisation. While change may be unavoidable, its direction and the way it is brought about are not.

Change management is about ensuring that change has as little negative impact as possible on the people affected.

What is organisational change?

In the broadest sense, organisational change is about reshaping businesses, for instance through restructuring, relocation and ‘downsizing’. These typically involve redundancy, job reapplication and outsourcing, prompting a growing perception of greater job insecurity.

Examples of change

  • Restructuring, such as changes to key personnel, roles and responsibilities and the structure of teams or departments.
  • Downsizing, which may be accompanied by outsourcing, multi-skilling or flexible working, de-layering (reducing a hierarchy) or increased automation.
  • Changing administrative arrangements, such as working hours, methods of training and relocation.

Organisational change should be considered within the broader context of globalisation and, closer to home, in terms of what it means to us as UK workers and trade unionists: its impact on our jobs, our dignity, our health and our cohesion.

The global market has created a culture of intense competition, with organisations changing their structures and their practices in an effort to keep up. Deregulation has enabled a rapid increase in mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures, often involving foreign corporations with their own brand of industrial relations.

In both the private and public sectors, organisations have flattened, reducing their hierarchies by replacing supervisory roles with information technology.

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