Peter Hadwen, President, Enterprise Change GroupPeter Hadwen, President
The current hybrid work environment has ushered in significant changes in work patterns, transforming the culture of workplaces. Middle managers and frontline employees are facing adaptation challenges with culture change and productivity at the center of the return to office debate. Enterprise Change Group (ECG) developed specialized toolkits in a technology platform to give voice to these concerns. They become integral soundings of organizational readiness and leadership decisions on rollouts.

Enterprise Change Group (ECG) is a business consulting firm that provides organizations with evidence-based, practical toolkits for putting in place two important ingredients for successful cultural transformation: a) Effective planning of all critical enabler (HR) supports to avoid change ‘compression’; b) Ensuring engagement of the front-line teams to confirm their needs and readiness for change (Have they received the procedural supports they need?).

Not to get negative, but we all know what rushed roll-outs cause in the culture of the workplace: Processing backlogs, and lower productivity as work-teams struggle with the extra workload, and the need to change many work routines. Our bias at ECG is against only Top-down change. This can put employees in the difficult position of absorbing the change with little supports or input. The retention and morale of employees depends on another approach, governance at the highest organizational level to assist them in change management.

“Our services and technology platform brings impacted stakeholders into one collaboration space with HR and other enablers. ECG facilitates dialogue about operational impacts and, correspondingly, what the project needs for successful implementation. ECG follows a standard process to explore and plan how the change will be rolled-out and governed (steered),” says Peter Hadwen, president of Enterprise Change Group.

Early employee and enabler (HR) engagement using ECG toolkits and online platform builds coordinated workforce, workplace, and culture change.

ECGs toolkits and services go beyond communications and training but yield operational plans and measurements for a definitive Go-live decision, and confirmation of success. After carefully analyzing a client’s needs for change adaptation, ECG consultants focus on creating a joint understanding of the impacts of change on the structure or model of the business. This creates a need to engage with front-line employees about how to effectively implement the change within their unique locations and work cultures. This requires the coordinated support of enablers like HR, IT, and Real Property. Through this engagement, employees are less uncertain of their roles and the impacts on their work routines. This lowers the likelihood of change resistance and significant drops in productivity. We typically work with clients on assessing the ‘stressors’ and impacts on unique groups (including diversity and inclusion) within an overall assessment of the culture of mental health in the workplace. This follows the ECG toolkit adapted from the Mental Health Commission of Canada's 13 psychosocial factors for workplace mental health. Typically, we have found that inadequate engagement around workload, work responsibilities, diversity/inclusion and leadership roles are the primary stressors within workplaces, and reasons for low project ROI.

Leveraging its platform brings ECG forms and analysis into one place for two types of decision and data analytics: a) Project stakeholder readiness; and b) Enterprise Readiness ECG has a unique portfolio approach that builds data analytics for insights across all transformation units, occupational groups, distributed sites/locations, and enabler supports and service (HR, IT, and Real Property support). This manages the cumulative impacts felt always by the same impacted stakeholders (front-line). We have built change management organizations at the corporate level that implement a common project intake and data analytics approach. The mission: Employ a standard enterprise change approach and help clients maximize value from investments and reduce risks of overloaded and uncoordinated operations. ECG assigns a score to the degree of change management required while assessing the nature and complexity of the change. In addition, the toolkits identify key employees who will be responsible for driving and implementing change management strategies.

ECG brings impacted stakeholders and enablers into the room for powerful discussions about six dimensions of change: Service, Policy, Work Process, Workforce, Workplace, Infrastructure, and Culture.
Breaking a change down creates a shared understanding of the sequenced initiatives and leadership collaboration required across silos. Early employee and enabler (HR) engagement using ECG toolkits and online platforms build coordinated workforce, workplace, and culture change.

One of the clients of ECG attests to the effectiveness of the approach, platform, and toolkit (a successful player in the food processing sector). They needed help with change management to better manage the new demands of the hybrid workplace, across this 10,000-employee operation. They wanted to ensure transformation projects had a standard, evidence-based change management approach. Prior to ECG’s work, transformations were technology and process focused. Support to employees in the workplace and workforce transitions was brought in very late, usually only after employees and unions started voicing concerns about the productivity impacts of uncoordinated IT roll-outs. With respect to returning to the office, employees and leadership needed to engage and reach an understanding of: what ‘productivity’ meant, what teamwork and collaboration meant anew, which occupations were impacted differently, how diversity and inclusion risks were assessed and mitigated, and generally how the organization management model needed to be re-invented.

In this food processing industry example, Enterprise Change Group piloted an approach at one facility that used specialized toolkits among employees. This empowered team leads and employees to assess and fix operational process issues, mend supervisory relationships, and adapt equipment, workstations, reporting tools, forms, procedures, work descriptions, and competencies, among other details. All these changes were implemented through joint working groups and change champions who assessed and resourced required solutions and decisions. This enabled HR management to establish strong engagement and leadership, eliminate employee skill gaps, mitigate workload impacts on capacity, avoid complaints from the unions, and ensure clear roles within procedures. Enterprise Change Group ensured with its toolkits, a data-driven ability to monitor with data visualizations/dashboards the concerns of employees, and the project success in delivering value. This included careful monitoring of cultural behaviours and the level of stress against 13 factors for psychosocial health in the workplace.

‘Organizational caring’ was demonstrated during a time of great change through a complete program of cultural change support.
Enterprise Change Group perceives an organization as a hierarchical structure of leaders, middle managers, and frontline workers who should be interconnected through dialogue and a strong program of change support. It aims to build a meaningful and sustainable culture of stakeholder dialogue and predictable change roll-outs, with clear leadership oversight using enterprise value metrics.