Adapting to change at work

Published by MAXSolutions on July 18, 2021
adapting to change

Change can be scary. Particularly big changes. Some people struggle with the rate of change that is occurring in their workplace. They feel as though as soon as they have adapted to one change, another begins. It can be exhausting, confusing and unsettling.

People react to change in different ways. Some people ignore it for as long as possible; others are more willing to tentatively try out something new. And which one of these you are may depend on the kind of change you are experiencing. The way you react to a change in technology might be different to the way you react to a change in process at work.

Evidence suggests that a lot of factors can impact how quickly and easily you will adapt to the change.[1] While some of these depend on factors you cannot control (such as they way change is introduced and the change itself) there are some things you can do to help yourself adjust.

Because the same studies found that better adaptors were more satisfied with their jobs, were less likely to leave their jobs and, and perceived higher performance after the change; it might be worth making the effort.


Learn with a buddy

Change can be less scary if you are going through it with a peer. Try to find someone who wants to learn about the change and learn about it together. Studies have found that when employees are supported, they can adapt more easily.[2]


Ask questions

This is sometimes easier said than done. In the early stages of change you won’t know which questions to ask, and a lot of people worry about looking silly when asking a question. You might be able to ask your questions privately or by email.

Studies show that during organisational change, those employees who adapt best are those who have a better understanding of the change.[3] Because the way in which change is communicated;doesn’t always work for everyone, you may need to get the information you need by asking lots of questions.



Try out a new process as soon as you can. Choose a time when you are feeling brave, fresh and focused. Practice at every opportunity (this can be difficult while still performing your duties using the old way). Mistakes are usually much more acceptable when made by a pioneering employee wanting to learn. The sooner you feel comfortable with the new change, the faster you will adapt to it.[4]


Be kind

Few new systems work perfectly the first time. It is likely that whatever it is that has changed for you won’t work perfectly first time. Be kind to yourself if it doesn’t work first time; be kind to your colleagues as they learn in different ways and at different rates.

If it is appropriate, give gentle feedback to those implementing the change.[5] Some changes will be easier than others. Most change becomes more acceptable with time and familiarity.

For assistance adapting to change in your workplace contact your EAP on 1800 627 277 or We also run group programs for workplaces!



1. Jane D Parent, "Individual adaptation to the changing workplace: Causes, consequences and outcomes" (January 1, 2006). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. Paper AAI3242353.

2. Sebastián Bruque, José Moyano, and Jacob Eisenberg. Journal of Management Information Systems Vol. 25 , Iss. 3,2008. Individual Adaptation to IT-Induced Change: The Role of Social Networks

3. James Allen, Nerina L. Jimmieson , Prashant Bordia & Bernd E. Irmer. Uncertainty during Organizational Change: Managing Perceptions through Communication. Page 187-210 | Published online: 25 Sep 2007.

4. Jimmieson, Nerina L.; Terry, Deborah J.; Callan, Victor J., A Longitudinal Study of Employee Adaptation to Organizational Change: The Role of Change-Related Information and Change-Related Self-Efficacy. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, Vol 9(1), Jan 2004, 11-27.

5. Marina Krakovsky. The Psychology of Kindness in the Workplace. Scholars explain why a culture of caring and compassion must be cultivated. June 10, 2013.


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