Happy Change – how happy employees make change happen

The organisations that succeed in the future will be those that show they can constantly adapt to a changing context. They will also put their employees first because happy employees = happy customers = more business value. Because, big or small, change only succeeds when your employees are happy, informed, and intrinsically motivated and equipped to contribute to success.

050_5 vragen over het zesde boek van PROOF Happy change_02-2.jpg

This belief is central to PROOF’s sixth book, Happy Change, which is out now (click here to order). In it, we discuss how you can help your employees to support change by fostering knowledge, willingness and ability. The book includes:

  • Facts, figures and in-depth theory

  • Practical examples from change practitioners

  • Tools to help you start right away

Order your copy of Happy Change here.

Want to know more?

Read the Q&A with writers Bea Aarnoutse en Marianne Jaarsma below.

Happy people make change happen.

5 questions for Bea Aarnoutse and Marianne Jaarsma

The writers of Happy Change

Bea Aarnoutse and Marianne Jaarsma

1. Happy Change? Where did you get the idea for the title?

“We believe that organisational change is more likely to succeed if employees feel comfortable with themselves and are willing and able to do the right things at the right time. So, positive change starts with ‘happy’ employees. Hence the title, Happy Change. When you put your employees at the heart of an organisational change, you think about their position in everything that is going on. You know where they are on the change curve, what obstacles are stopping them from making a positive contribution to the organisation's goals, and what they need to help them to participate. None of this is 'one size fits all' – it takes customisation. Writing the book confirmed our belief that successful organisational change begins with happy employees.”

2. You talk in the book about knowledge, willingness and ability. What do you mean by this?

“We wanted the book to look at organisational change as a whole. Knowledge, willingness and ability are central to genuinely involving employees in change. Employees who know the organisation’s change ambitions and goals, are willing to contribute to achieving those ambitions, and have ability and competencies to do so are worth their weight in gold. This approach goes beyond Communication and HR as individual disciplines. Instead, they must drive change together. Putting employees at the heart of change requires a common conviction and shared responsibility from both disciplines. It also requires  ̶  and this is essential  ̶  support from the top of the organisation, and empowered managers and ambassadors who are happy to inspire, activate and motivate their colleagues. In our opinion, an organisation must invest in the knowledge, willingness and ability of its employees in order to be able to respond to developments in the outside world and create sustainable value for all stakeholders.”

3. Leadership and internal communication are recurring themes throughout the book. Why?

“Of the six influencing factors that ensure an optimal employee experience, leadership and internal communication are the two we focus on in our book because they are the most important when it comes to building an aligned workforce. Managers and team leaders are closest to employees and have a major influence on how an employee feels about his or her work. In our book, we emphasise the importance of good leadership communication and the need to equip and facilitate managers in their role as well.

“The role of internal communication is about so much more than just sharing information regularly. Done well, internal communication guides employees because it explains to them, in appealing and recognisable ways, why change is necessary. It also facilitates and equips them to act. Internal communication makes abstract strategies concrete by highlighting good examples and celebrating milestones. And It energises by offering pioneers a platform, encouraging employees to take action, and connecting employees with the pride felt within the organisation.”

4. What about the other influencing factors?

“These are also important in making employees feel good about themselves and certainly need to be addressed properly. These factors are also touched on in the book, woven through the various chapters. The Covid19 crisis has exposed a lot of pain points and concerns. Not only has it become clear that managers play an essential role throughout the employee journey and that internal communication is important, but we have also been reminded that social dynamics are essential, too. Work has an important social function and contact between colleagues is very important. In addition, continuing to invest in the personal and professional development of employees remains essential. The research we have done with Motivaction during Covid has shown that employees feel they are standing still. Nobody wants that. So vitality has become an important topic in every organisation: how do you keep yourself physically and mentally fit at home when normally you would cycle to work? What should you do if you find it hard to put your laptop away at night? And a pleasant and safe working environment is also important. Our research revealed that people would like to work from home more in the future, but that they also value regular face-to-face meetings with their colleagues. All of these issues have an impact on the role of the office in the future and require clear agreements about how to maintain the balance between working from home and working at the office.”

5. What do you hope to achieve with this book?

“We hope to create a broad awareness and shared belief within organisations that it pays to put employees first in times of change. Do that and your organisation will succeed in creating sustainable value for all your stakeholders. Because if you put your employees first, in turn they will put the organisation's other key stakeholders first."

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Sascha Becker
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