Three of the Top Reasons Employees Resist Change

If you look at almost any aspect of a business, chances are it does not operate in the same way it did when it was first introduced. The reason for this is the business’ identification of a need for change. Whether a business follows a formal change management process or not, it is inevitable that adjustments are made as time passes. Like people, there is no such thing as a perfect business, regardless of how well it may be performing.


One of the biggest indicators of how well a change fits in to a business is the way in which employees react to the change. The truth is that many changes, whether beneficial or not, are met with resistance from the work force. This resistance manifests in bold and/or subtle actions of defiance to the change. There are several reasons why employees are resistant to change and below is an outline of three of the most popular reasons employees resist change.

Loss of Employment

This is one of the most popular reasons for employee resistance and it is truly no surprise. People work for a living. Whether that living is comfortable or not, employment provides a source of income that takes care of expenses at the very least. Having a job and feeling secure in the guarantee of earning provides a sense of comfort to employees.

It stands to reason, therefore, that anything that appears to threaten this way of life is a problem for said employees. When you consider the fact that factors such as technological changes have resulted in the lack of a need for certain types of workers, or the fact that organizational restructuring can lead to workers being laid off, you can understand why employees worry and begin to put up resistance to changes that seemingly present this threat.

Communication Breakdown

As unfortunate as this is, many times employees are resistant simply because communication of the change was either poorly done or poorly interpreted. No matter what the intended meaning of an attempt at communicating a message is, if the party/parties on the receiving end do not derive the intent of said message, the whole process fails.

For example, imagine a company distributes a portion of its profit to staff members every quarter as an incentive. Note that the incentive received every three months the is the total profit distribution allowance for all the months that make up the quarter. Now imagine a loss was made in one month and the company decides to cut the incentive package for that quarter. In communicating this decision, staff members could get the idea that the incentive system is being removed entirely. The thought of losing such a convenient benefit permanently is enough for staff to display levels of resistance.

This is how communication breakdown can result in resistance due to misunderstanding.

Terrible Pacing

When the decision to implement certain changes is made, there also needs to be a review of the magnitude and impact of the change. This needs to be done because not all changes can be implemented quickly and/or in a single phase. In many cases, this is not understood, and the staff complement of a business may simply not willing and/or able to accommodate large changes in that way.

Attempts to get the workforce to do so are usually met with resistance.


Whenever changes are communicated poorly, pose a risk of job loss, or are too significant to implement all at once, the implementation of them is likely to be met with resistance. There are other reasons this can also take place such as a lack of faith in the management team.

The best way to prevent or mitigate against such resistance is through a structured change management process.


Three of the Top Reasons Employees Resist Change

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