Pace of Workplace Change Expected to Increase in Next Five Years

Navigating change is important for organizational success, and the past two years have put many companies to the test. Growth, the COVID-19 pandemic, and technology changes drove the most change in organizations, according to Change Management: Talent Development’s Critical Role, sponsored by Ashland University.

ATD’s research shows that most organizations can do a better job of managing change and talent development professionals should be important partners in any change management initiative. “Talent development professionals can play a critical role in managing change by working alongside and advising senior leaders during every stage of change and delivering training in change management capabilities, techniques, and strategies,” according to the report.

Several key findings emerged from this research:

  • A quarter of organizations (25 percent) described their funding for change initiatives as adequate, and another 34 percent described it as generally adequate, but occasionally constraining effectiveness. The remainder (41 percent) described funding as inadequate. Providing adequate funding for change initiatives was associated with heightened performance, and having inadequate funding was associated with lower performance.
  • Change management and talent development professionals should master several change-related capabilities. For example, organizations whose change management and talent development staff were rated as advanced in their knowledge of how change impacts organizations and people and rated as advanced in their skill in assessing risk and designing change strategy were more likely to be high performers.
  • Providing employees with training related to change management was also a high-performance practice, as was discussing training needs with talent development before the change initiative launched. Extending training to many groups of employees, and in particular individual contributors, was a best practice, but not adopted by many.

The report found that only 50 percent of participating organizations provided change management training to employees, and of those that did, more than 60 percent delivered training to department or line managers and senior leaders. The most frequently covered topic was communicating to direct reports about change and how it affects them.