Role of HR in change management 

15 June 2021

In 2020 the global business community was almost universally impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Within a very short space of time businesses from sole traders to multinationals had to adapt and change at a rate not seen before in the modern age. Some industries, like travel, had to contract activities significantly whereas others had to amend at pace how they get their products or services to the consumer.       

No matter the cause, it is important for organisations to manage change in a way that enables continued success while maintaining employee engagement during and after implementation. 

Change management is the process of planning, implementing and reviewing organizational transformation so it results in positive adoption.   

Adapting to change is difficult for most people. We fear we will lose something we value or will be unable to adapt successfully. This is particularly true in the working world. The level of employee resistance to transformation is likely to be higher in some industries.  

Whereas change may be viewed as a welcome challenge by those working in science, technology or engineering once it is communicated correctly.  

Either way HR professionals have a very important role to play in supporting employees at all levels to understand, accept and adapt to changes that are necessary for the long term success of a business. 

When it comes to managing organizational change SHRM say HR can play multiple important roles in a number of areas including: 

Implementing: if change is required by outside forces for example changes in law or safety regulations. Many HR departments found themselves involved in the communication and implementation of social distancing regulations required by many countries during the pandemic.

Facilitating: if change is required by an internal stakeholder in the business for example the merging of departments or changes to IT operations, HR departments often play a role in managing the communication around the need for change. 

Enabling: sometimes change is enabled by human resources because it is right for the organisation for example improving diversity in the workplace


In essence effective change management from a HR perspective is about communication. Most HR professionals are the agents of change by acting as intermediaries during the change process. You will need to work with the other stakeholders to understand who needs what information at each stage of the process. This will need to be mapped out against the steps involved in making the change so that no one is left in the dark. 


Establish multiple sources of information so no matter which communication form an employee prefers, they can access the information they need. For example, add details to the intranet, ensure they are emailed and discuss it at team/company meetings. If there are significant changes planned that impact particular individuals within the business more than others, ensure they have been informed one to one or in a small group setting before announcements are made to the wider business.  


Change can be a cause of stress for many people. Help mitigate this by ensuring communications include supports that are available to employees. This could be in the form of management initiatives to assist with the change, external employee assistance programmes or one to one meeting with the HR team to discuss their concerns. It is also important for successful change management that there is a robust communication framework in place to accept, evaluate and integrate if appropriate, employee feedback into the plan.