If you are dealing with the restructuring of your business, we have a tip for you: eLearning can help you manage organizational change. In fact, we know five ways eLearning authoring tools can help, and we’ve got them for you here. But first, let’s start with a few basics.

What do we mean by organizational change?

This is one of those if-you-have-to-ask, it’s-not-happening-to-you kind of things. On the other hand, if it happens to you, you will recognize it immediately because the company you’ve known for years (and which gave you comfort in your current position) starts to transform all around you.

Organizational change can range from a change in business strategy to a major revamp of whole sections of your company. We usually see it when a corporation faces a shake-up at the top (leadership reorganization) or a restructuring of business lines.

Sometimes changes in an organization happen when a company seeks a turnaround from its current unhappy financial condition or low market share. That means the company is most likely in a crisis of some kind, jettisoning outmoded processes, activities, and people. Whatever the cause, organizational change means big modifications to company life and a tendency for employee stress levels to rise.

What external events bring about organizational change to a company?

In today’s digital world, organizational change often results from emerging technological advances that require a company to fall in line with a whole new way of doing business. Think Big Data and services in the cloud. Adopting new technologies often results in higher levels of productivity and a leg up on those competitors who delay in adopting the changes or who fight against change.

Before we see the uptick in productivity and profits, however, there will be short-term pain. Adopting new technologies requires setting up new procedures to carry out new production steps which management hopes will lead to increased profits. In the case of keeping pace with cyber security compliance, for example, change may mean creating new C-Suite positions, such as information security chiefs. CIS and CIO’s set firm-wide policies on cyber security and keep upper-level management apprised of developments. That adds an additional management layer over previously self-contained IT departments.

Today’s shrinking world also means that corporations face changes from the globalization of their markets. Globalization may mean significant changes in market conditions and competition from companies on the other side of the world.

Why is change management important?

A company in crisis must change to survive. After all, letting go of inefficient processes and lines of business saves the company money and helps it to survive by becoming more efficient.

HR personnel provide critical support in managing organizational change. You relay the corporate messages to employees, explain the need for the changes and allay fears of the unknown.

In the case of mergers and acquisitions, employees will fear layoffs. They may be afraid a new corporate culture will not mesh with the one they’ve known. The company must avert increased turnover in the employees it wants to retain. All those things make change management an important feature of organizational change.

Whether a company is in crisis or on its own initiative makes changes to its corporate culture, top managers must incorporate workers when putting changes into effect. If the new culture is going to convert new customers, result in higher customer loyalty and satisfaction rates, and reduce costs, then worker retention is key. 

How does eLearning help with managing organizational change? Several ways come to mind.

  1. Self-paced learning. Not everyone learns in the same way or at the same rate. The old teaching methods forced learning at a specific time and in a specific order, leaving behind some learners. It does not have to be that way. Storing teaching materials online within an organized lesson plan allows employees to learn at their own pace. Lessons can be broken down into small pieces, with a mix of quizzes and videos, so the process is not overwhelming. You also may want to sequence the lessons so that the order of completion coincides with the dates that those portions of the procedures will enter into business practice.
  2. KPIs and Feedback in Real-time. Key performance indicators delivered in real-time show your employees what’s important and why. You might assign the HR staff to monitor the online course on the new technology. Feedback in real-time shows employees where they erred while test questions are fresh in their minds. Research shows that real-time feedback spurs higher performance and holds employees accountable.
  3. Consistent Messaging. eLearning provides management more control over the message. Instead of hearing the benefits of the latest merger by word-of-mouth from different sources (where the message can become garbled like a child’s telephone game), all employees plug into the same online courses where everyone hears the same, well-developed message.

What are some practical ways to incorporate mobile learning techniques?

Make job aides available on-line. If a person’s way of working is undergoing significant changes due to reorganizing within an employee’s department, a revised job aide on-line is a simple way to let the employee know how those changes may affect his or her duties.

Videos and podcasts made available online not only help to outline the company’s new corporate structure but explain in a warmer, friendly way how the organization’s changes will affect employees’ jobs, their benefits, their compensation, etc.

Encourage employees to use social media networks to share what they’ve learned about a new task or a solution that works for them in the new organizational structure. A culture of information-sharing leads to a culture of teamwork and alleviates the fear of change. Make teams digitally connected and more productive under the new regime.

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