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Navigating Change: Understanding the Impact of Organizational Restructuring on Employees’ Well-being

Written by Oluwakemi Olajitan, Resource Coordinator, Wellness Works Canada



Organizational restructuring, whether due to mergers, acquisitions, downsizing, or other strategic adjustments, is prevalent in today's fast-paced corporate world. While these changes are often necessary for the organization's survival, growth and adaptation, they can have profound effects on employees, particularly concerning their mental health. The announcement of restructuring often brings a sense of uncertainty about job security, roles, changes in organizational hierarchy, reporting structures and responsibilities. This ambiguity can lead to heightened anxiety among employees who may fear job loss or an unfavourable shift in their work environment.


Organizational restructuring can have significant impacts on employees' well-being across various dimensions – including mental health, social, physical, emotional, financial, spiritual, and intellectual well-being. Employees may experience a range of emotions during restructuring, including fear, anger, sadness, or frustration that may affect their mental health. Also, the stress and anxiety associated with organizational restructuring can manifest physically, leading to sleep disturbances, fatigue, and even physical health problems such as headaches or gastrointestinal issues. Restructuring can affect the social well-being of employees if not properly managed. Loss of social support and a sense of isolation are some effects on employees’ social well-being.


In addition, restructuring may require employees to adapt to new roles, learn new skills, and cope with job loss or job hunting. While these challenges can foster intellectual growth, they can also lead to feelings of overwhelming or depression. Loss of earnings is another effect on employee’s well-being.

 

What Strategies Can Support Employees?

A strategic approach to supporting your people is always best. Consider following our five-step guide to a healthy, high-performing work culture or this guide on Successfully Leading Change and Disruption. Some other practical tips you can follow to support well-being holistically are as follows. During times of change communicate as much as possible why the change is being made, and share the resources that are available to support them as much as possible.


Mental Health

  • Provide access to confidential counselling services or employee assistance programs to support individuals experiencing stress, anxiety, or depression.

  • Offer resilience workshops, mindfulness sessions, or relaxation techniques to help employees cope with uncertainty and build resilience.

  • Provide communication channels for employees to express their concerns and seek guidance on managing their mental health.


Social Well-being

  • Organize team-building activities, virtual coffee breaks, or social events to maintain a sense of connection among employees, especially those who may be facing changes in their teams or departments.

  • Establish peer support networks or buddy systems where employees can share experiences, provide mutual support, and navigate challenges together.

  • Offer transition support programs, Networking Opportunities, Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), Career Counselling and Job Search Assistance would help employees who suffer downsizing during organizational restructuring.

 

Physical Well-being

  • Promote well-being initiatives such as fitness challenges, virtual exercise classes, or walking challenges to encourage physical activity and combat sedentary behaviour.

  • Provide resources on ergonomics, proper nutrition, and sleep hygiene to support employees in maintaining their physical health during times of change.

Emotional Well-being

  • Offer workshops or seminars on emotional intelligence, stress management, or resilience-building to help employees navigate their emotions effectively.

  • Create safe spaces for employees to share their feelings, concerns, and experiences related to organizational restructuring, fostering a supportive and empathetic environment.

Intellectual Well-being

  • Provide training and development opportunities tailored to employees' evolving roles and skill requirements, empowering them to adapt and thrive in changing circumstances.

  • Facilitate knowledge-sharing sessions, mentoring programs, or peer learning networks to foster intellectual growth and collaboration among employees.


Summary

Implementing these strategies can help mitigate the negative effects of organizational restructuring on employees' well-being and support them in adapting to change effectively. For more support or further resources to support employees in your organization, reach out to a member of our team at info@wellnessworkscanada.ca.

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