Branchefællesskabet for arbejdsmiljø

Changes at work

Change is a part of life at most shops. However, changes at work, new IT systems, restructuring, etc. can cause uncertainty and insecurity. Read more here about understanding change and what you can do as an employee, a manager or a member of the health and safety group.

VIDEO - INSPIRATION FOR STAFF MEETING - watch this video and talk about how you can prepare for changes in the shop in your shop or store (in Danish with English subtitles).

Understanding change

Changes can cause uncertainty and insecurity, but they can also pave the way for new opportunities.

How to work with changes

For employees

For employees

Changes will affect you

Changes at the workplace will naturally affect the psychosocial working conditions at the workplace, such as creating uncertainty and insecurity about the scope of the change and what it will mean for daily work.

The better planned a change process is, the better prepared you, as an employee, will be to deal with the change. It’s important to deal with changes positively, constructively and in an open and non-discriminatory dialogue between you employees, and management.

We react in more or less the same way when faced with changes. However, there’s a difference in how strongly we react, and this has to do with what impact the change has, for example. Read How we react to change above.

Here is what you can do

Below are some useful suggestions when you are facing major changes at your shop.

Seek information

As an employee, you will want to know what the change will mean for you. It’s a good idea to seek information from management and ask questions such as:

  • What does the change mean for me?
  • What will the change require of me?
  • Will I be working with other colleagues than I’m used to work with?
  • Do I need other qualifications than those I already have?
  • What are my possibilities for influencing the process?
Have meetings

You can hold meetings in your team/department together with your manager where you express your feelings, concerns and reservations  in regards to the changes. Remember that it’s important the meetings do not turn into negative discussions. Instead, use the meetings to discuss how to get the best out of the changes in a future perspective.

Individual meetings

If you don’t feel it’s possible or don’t feel like asking questions with many people gathered at a staff meeting or similar, ask your manager for individual meetings. The purpose of individual meetings is to ensure that, as an employee, you have realistic expectations of the change, and that you understand your new, future role in the organisation.

Seek influence

As an employee you can contribute actively to the change process by asking questions and expressing your concerns, come with proposals and alternative solutions.

As an employee, seeking influence during the change process can allow you opportunity to influence the process and your own future role in the organisation.

Support each other

Mutual trust means greater job satisfaction and engagement in the change process. Therefore, nurturing a culture of mutual help and support can help to build trust and thereby benefit the working environment during change processes.

Courses and continuing training

Changes can lead to new job functions, and you should therefore consider whether you need courses and continuing training to meet the requirements of your new job functions.

On the basis of information from management on the company’s future skills needs, as an employee you can be proactive and suggest what qualifications and skills you would like to develop and in this way influence the direction of your own career.

Celebrate transition

It’s important to celebrate or in some other way mark the transition when you move from one stage to another, and such occasions can also be used to celebrate good results and set a new goal. You can mark and celebrate a transition by having a dinner together in the entire department/group, for example.

Social activities

Social activities are a good way to make everyone feel part of the group when you have been reorganised into new groups.

For managers

Reactions to change

Changes are a part of life at most workplaces today, and change is therefore also a natural condition at shops that develop and adapt to their surroundings. Change will affect the employees and thereby also the psychosocial working conditions.

As the manager, you must be well-prepared and help the change process running smoothly, including managing employees’ reactions to change. This also means that, as a manager, you must have insight into the factors that can influence the psychosocial working conditions.

  • What emotional reactions are common in connection with change?
  • Why do managers sometimes experience resistance to change among staff?
  • What do these perspectives mean for the change process?
Be prepared for resistance

Some degree of resistance to change is expectable, and it is often difficult to get everyone onboard the change process. Typically, this is not because individual employees intentionally try to obstruct the change process; rather it’s a natural reaction to something unexpected, unknown or something that’s difficult to immediately understand.

  • Read more above: How we react to change.

Here is what you can do

If your employees feel that the change is being implemented after careful consideration and planning, and if they feel that they have been told a narrative about the change that makes sense to them as employees, then they will feel less psychological uncertainty and you will see a more positive reaction.

You can manage your change process in three phases: A preparation phase, an implementation phase and an integration phase.

1. The preparation phase

A good change process beings in the preparation phase:

2. The implementation phase - launching activities

The implementation phase is when you launch the activities to implement the change. During this phase, focus should be on how management, in cooperation with staff, can make the change happen.

3. The integration phase

No change, whether major or minor, is complete until it has been incorporated into daily activities.

New habits

Most changes to norms and shared values typically only come later in the change process.  The ‘new normal’ will not be fully embedded in the workplace culture until it has become clear how the ‘new normal’ works, and until the ‘new normal’ has proved better than the ‘old normal’.

The real success is measured by whether the employees have changed their behaviour and experience the change as beneficial.


Providing good support can help employees to deal with organisational change. Employees may have different needs for support, and the need for support can be both practical, professional and emotional.

Tools and links

Related pages on Det du mærker

For health and safety groups

The work of the health and safety group

The health and safety group does not have a clearly defined responsibility in ensuring a good change process at the workplace.  But if some employees express uncertainty or concerns about an announced change at your workplace, you can choose to address the topic.

The quick method

If you want to start work with how to cope with change at a small workplace, a simple staff meeting may be a good place to start. The meeting will help you put your experiences and thoughts into words. At the end of the meeting, you can all assess whether there is a need to launch initiatives.

  • Watch the film about change together.
  • Talk about the film: What is it like at our workplace?
  • What can we do to become better at coping with change?
Initiatives based on a health and safety risk assessment

You can conduct a health and safety risk assessment (APV) with special focus on the psychosocial working conditions and examine the factors that affect the experience of changes at the shop.

There are several ways to conduct a health and safety risk assessment:

  • The dialogue method by which you identify the problems at a staff meeting and discuss causes and solutions together.
  • The questionnaire method by which you collect employees’ opinions and experiences in writing, and then find causes and solutions either in the health and safety group or at a staff meeting.

Tools and links

Related pages on Det du mærker