How to Measure Success in Workplace Change Management

14 Feb 2019

By Avinash Yalamanchili

How to Measure Success in Workplace Change Management
This is the second article in our change management series, Managing Workplace Change.

Change management is a misunderstood concept in the real estate industry. Encouragingly though, dialogue around the benefits of change management to an office relocation or workplace transformation is growing.

Increasingly, we are seeing a better understanding of the benefits of change management resulting from several key components. In a workplace setting, this shift can best be explained by defining a set of key performance indicators (KPIs) and return on investment (ROI) markers before and throughout the process cycle. Not every project employs these processes yet, but as an industry, we are heading in this more defined direction. 

In the first part of this series, we discussed how to implement change management in a constantly evolving workplace. Now we turn to another equally important question: “How can we measure success in a consistent and meaningful way?” And “What should KPIs for a workplace change manager look like?”

However, with most simple questions come a complexity of answers. This is where we turn to theory to gain more clarity on effective measurement.

To answer these questions, we find the PROSCI ADKAR Model, an acronym for Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement, a decent starting point. For PROSCI to succeed, experience tells us that the human factor is of key importance. According to this methodology, change management can be measured on three primary metrics of success and ROI.

Modelling for Success

Firstly, one key metric is the speed of adoption, i.e. how quickly people are able to adapt to change. How quickly are people up and running on the new systems, work settings, processes and job roles?

Recently, there was a case whereby a corporation spent EUR15 million on a project of workplace transformation to save about EUR26 million over the next 7 years. The business case also stated that there would be no benefit for the next 3 years. The key for change management here was to help client employees adapt to the workplace changes on time for them to realize the benefits.

Secondly, success needs to be measured by the ultimate utilization of the program – namely, how many people are using the new work settings, technology and processes during a workplace revamp. Specifically, how many employees of the total population are demonstrating “buy-in” to the broader program and are using the new solutions available?

Equally important, in a post-occupancy evaluation we found out that in a population of 1,000 employees in a client organization, only 300 of them adopted new formats including activity-based working (ABW). Hence the steering committee came to the conclusion that only 30% of the value was realized. Sound familiar?

And thirdly, the PROSCI model stresses proficiency as a major factor in change management ROI. Foremost, how well are people performing after the change? How well are individuals performing compared to the level expected in the design of the change? In any of the workplace transformation programs, do we ever go back and check how well the organization is performing in the new workplace?  Another consideration is whether we should measure proficiency at an individual or business level.  Which one gives us a better measure of success?

8 Steps for Measuring Change Management

So how does this translate into more specific workplace change management programs? Our recommendations follow an eight-step process.
  1. Assess the Impact: Workplace change means different things to different people. Assessing the impact on various departments in terms of work space, technology, dependencies, and storage is crucial. Addressing these more visible aspects, change management activities can be designed based on the understanding of the impact on each of these teams.
  2. Leadership Engagement: The establishment and execution of steering committees, senior supervisory committees, and executive committees cannot be understated. One-on-one leadership interviews, project objectives and branding workshops are also increasingly being included as part of the change process, with high success rates.
  3. Stakeholder Identification and Mapping: Interviewing key stakeholders like department heads and focus groups provides valuable insights. As do wider catchment programs like categorization exercises and engagement campaigns.
  4. Identify Change Agents: Look across departments and hierarchies for influencers and first movers. Creating a network and training them to lead the change amongst their teams increases impact and awareness.
  5. Committing to Training: Training change agents and supporting them in conducting trainings within their own departments or teams is essential. Trainings discussing workplace protocols, technology changes, and storage are becoming more common and effective in connecting individuals to their role and assessing how they will be directly impacted.
  6. Analyzing and Leveraging Communication Channels: Define new communication channels and establish new platforms to cascade messages and target audiences. Furthermore, creating a communication strategy, maintaining and updating a communication plan, monitoring and delivering communications for the program and specific migration communications are all essential elements.
  7. Measure and Monitor Readiness and Satisfaction: A pre-live survey to gauge readiness and post-occupancy surveys to gauge staff satisfaction are very useful for many corporations looking to operate under a new work environment.
  8. Define and Track Benefits: Establishing KPIs, understanding what success means, and benefit realization is almost non-negotiable in our view.
Increasingly, clients care more about outcomes than activities or deliverables in the change management process. This is why Benefits Management is such a crucial component.  In workplace transformation projects, we often do a post-occupancy evaluation to measure the success of change in terms of real usage of space. We also use dipstick surveys to measure readiness to change at various stages. Another useful way is to draw on statistics from observation studies, sensors or other prop tech in the new workplace.

As we continue to observe, the workplace is constantly evolving. Transformation programs cannot be grouped easily or simply, since every company is unique, operating with its own specific culture.  In many cases, companies  are governed by different regulatory regimes and operate under legacy culture markers. The change management industry is evolving as well – for instance, there is a growing awareness of workplace design’s vital role in the overall process. 

But one constant remains: How is success measured? This might be the most subjective question of all. Methodologies like the PROSCI model provide defined KPIs, which do offer a clearer picture of the success factors. However, backend processes like the eight-step plan CBRE outlines help crystalize the ROI and are highly useful in ensuring the success of a change management program in an evolving workplace. 

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