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Organisational change

Organisational change can occur in various ways and for various reasons.  Typically, there are two types of change as experienced by organisations; planned and unplanned. 

Unplanned changes often occur due to ad-hoc events such as natural disasters or a financial stock market crash.  Alternatively, planned organisational change is generally introduced to respond to an identified gap in the organisation's performance. Changes of this nature are usually implemented systematically by either an internal HR representative or an external change management consultant. 

Managing change

Managing change within any organisation can be a challenge, and a delicate process to execute. As a basic principle, those responsible for managing the change process need to understand that people's capacity to change can be influenced by how that change is presented to them. If communicated poorly, people's capacity to adapt to change can diminish - particularly if they misunderstand or resist the change - causing barriers and ongoing issues.  The rationale behind this theory is that if people understand the benefits of change, they are more likely to want to participate in the change and see that it is successfully carried out. This in turn means minimal disruption to the organisation and more successful outcomes of the change process.

Change can happen in any area of an organisation and any change must be managed to ensure that it is effective and achieves the desired objective.  Some changes that can occur within an organisation include:

  • changing of the organisational culture
  • introduction of new technology,  systems or products
  • mergers, acquisitions or downsizing
  • expanding into new business areas
  • organisational restructure.

Legal considerations of organisational change

Changing the way a business is organised can have legal implications for the employer and employees in that business. If a business outsources or insources a function, merges with another business, sells or transfers part or all of its business to another organisation or undergoes internal restructuring, it is likely to trigger employment obligations as well as a change in employment conditions and/or the employing entity. With this in mind, it is essential for HR professionals dealing with this type of organisational change to be across the key legislative obligations placed on the organisation to ensure compliance, as well as to support other business units and the key leadership team.

Transfer of business / Mergers and acquisitions

Industrial laws make provisions that are designed to protect employee entitlements when a business changes its structure.  Employers that are either relinquishing or acquiring employees as a result of such change need to be aware of the manner in which these provisions operate.  Employers also need to understand the extent to which employment contracts and other industrial instruments operate in this situation.

Learn more

For more information on organisational change, please see our:

Information sheets

HR considerations with mergers and acquisitions

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The obligation to consult

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Implications of failure to consult

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Guidelines

HR information required with mergers and acquisitions

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Checklists

Organisational restructure

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Templates

Change management tools

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Letter to notify employees of change

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