Why Do Employees Resist Change and How to Overcome It?

The one primary reason any individual resists change is that it threatens their established routines and the feeling of stability. It is no different for your employees.

It is hard for some to embrace new opportunities and accept a new way of working, which is usually much more efficient. To decrease resistance, organizational leadership must relay information to the employees for their cooperation before the change happens. Here are your five reasons why employees resist change. If you could remove the grounds of resistance, you would have a productive workforce.


Fear of failure


Employees resist change because of the fear of failure. They will resist change because it will make them feel less confident in their abilities. They might feel doubtful that they will not know how to perform their job correctly or worried about being blamed if things go wrong.

As a manager, you can overcome this by setting clear goals and expectations. Employees resistant to change must understand what they are supposed to do and why they are essential to do it well. If there is any ambiguity about the goal or how to achieve it, either provide them constructive feedback or allow them to ask for input from team members so that everyone shares the same thoughtfulness about what needs doing.

Overcoming fear requires much practice. Asking employees who are resistant to change to set up a trial run of the new process allows them to get their feet wet before jumping in headfirst into full implementation.


Job insecurity


Most employees resist change because they are motivated by job security, but that does not mean they all need to be. Job insecurity can cause employees to resist change when they feel as though their jobs are uncertain or they are not sure what the future holds for them. If you work in a competitive environment where layoffs often happen and your company has been struggling lately, it could make sense to stay away from change because it could mean more downsizing soon.

Another way employees resist change is if they are working in a slow-growing industry that has been stagnant for years—so much so that no one knows if they will even have jobs next year. This kind of uncertainty leads people down a path of resistance because employees are no longer hopeful or have a sense of purpose at work; there’s just boredom and emptiness instead. Employees who feel lethargic will likely turn against anything new being introduced into their work because it may threaten their current role within the organization and make them expendable (even though this is not always true).


Bad communication


How a change is presented to workers determines their emotions. Expect to get pushback if you cannot explain what, why, how, when, who, and how success will be assessed.

Changes requiring little or no information are generally poorly welcomed because workers feel pushed. Change management requires constant communication. If you want employees not to resist change, you must maintain an open-door policy regardless of your position in the company. Be there for questions. Insignificant or insensitive communication is miscommunication. You can never provide too much important information.


Peer pressure


The first reason employees resist change can be summed up in one word: peer pressure. The fear of losing the job is a powerful motivator and a stressor. Employees will often conform to the new way of doing things simply because they do not want to lose their jobs.

Another reason employees resist change is because they worry about how it will affect their career prospects. For example, a company that does not operate under the same principles as the newly hired employee’s previous employer, who was more successful than this new company, could find themselves stuck in an environment where they feel less valued and unable to progress further within the company. This can cause low morale amongst staff members and a lack of motivation for those looking for promotion opportunities that would lead them out of this mindset.




Trust is a fundamental value. When the company leadership trusts the employees, productivity becomes predictable. When employees do not trust their leadership, it is challenging to create an environment where employees resist change. It is easier for management to communicate what needs changing and how the changes will be achieved if there is a mutual understanding between the employee and manager.

Mistrust in the policies that allow overcoming resistance to change can lead to poor communication between employees and management, which can impede progress on important initiatives. Let’s suppose an employee does not believe that you have their best interests at heart when planning for future growth opportunities within the company. Most employees resist change because they probably do not feel motivated enough to participate in those plans by offering input or volunteering time for projects related to them.

For employees’ ideas about change-management efforts—and trust in these processes—to be met with success (and thus lead them toward becoming more open-minded), companies must first develop strong relationships with their workers at every level of their organization.


Poor time management


Change is a constant in business, but overcoming resistance to change can be difficult for employees to accept. One reason employees resist change is poor time management skills. Poor timing means that the changes you want to make are not aligned with your employees’ current needs, making them less likely to take advantage of new opportunities and more likely to feel frustrated by the process.

Poor timing stems from poor planning, so if you want your company’s projects and initiatives to succeed, you must learn to plan effectively as a leader. Planning requires understanding what each person on your team needs to do at any time. Understanding their priorities will help ensure that essential projects do not get pushed off simply because someone else has “higher” priorities at that moment in time (or because they do not know about them).

Also Read: Six Strategies To Transform Employees Into All-star Leaders

By understanding the abovementioned reasons why employees resist change at the workplace, the company leadership should implement the policies that can help employees overcome resistance to change in small increments. This will allow for the most stress-free transition period for your employees. You do not want to give them more ammunition against you or your company. If you look at these reasons, you will see that most of them add fuel to the fire. If too many changes are implemented, employees may push back even harder than before.