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Change is coming: How to be flexible and adaptable at work

Do you struggle to deal with change at work? Change is a necessary part of the workforce no matter what industry you are in. In the public service, organisational change such as re-structuring is occurring rapidly for a range of reasons including changes to government funding and altered priorities.

Whether it’s more hours or increased responsibility, adapting to change is a key employment skill, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Those who can handle change are more resilient and may have increased morale.

Why is handling change at work important?

Firstly, let’s look at why handling change at work is important according to Mind Tools.


The Stages Of Change

Firstly, let’s look at the way most people respond to change.

Shock & Denial

People’s initial reaction to change may be shock and denial as they react to the disruption of established patterns.

Anger & Fear

Once the reality of the change hits, people start to respond negatively.

People may protest against and resist the change.

For employers, this is the most dangerous stage of the change process.


People start to focus less on what they have lost and accept the change. They learn what’s good about change and not so good and begin to adapt.


People start to embrace the change. It’s only here the organisation gets the full benefit of change.

For the change to be as effective as possible, it’s important to quickly move through the first two stages.

But what can you do to make dealing with change at work easier?

Hays  and Indeed provide some useful advice on how to cope with change at work


It’s a good idea to reframe change as an opportunity.

Are you worried about a lack of support or an increased workload?

You could Reframe this in a positive light. For example, you get the opportunity for Additional responsibilities and to manage workload independently.


Forget how change was explained to you. How would you explain to others? This might help you see the change in a new light and bring a fresh perspective.

What are the implications and opportunities for you?

How will change affect life in a practical sense? More hours? Build skills?

Both of these questions invite you to consider how the change will impact you, including any positives.

Break down the information you have received about the change, considering questions like

What exactly will you have to do differently each day?

Are there tasks that will stay the same? Which tasks will be different?

Do you have any new responsibilities or expectations?

Doing this helps break the change into manageable pieces.


Ask questions

A lot of anxiety about change is caused by uncertainty and not knowing how things will work out. Asking questions can help you understand how you will be impacted by change. If you are unsure about something, ask your manager. Asking questions could clear up misconceptions or confusion about the change.


During any period of change, you will likely feel apprehensive. Make sure your interpretation of the change is rational and based on facts. If not, can you think of an alternative perspective?

A positive outlook will make you more likely to respond to the change appropriately.


Be patient with yourself

Adapting to change takes time and perseverance, so it won’t happen overnight. Look after yourself and ask for help if you need it.


Remain flexible and adaptable

Be adaptable, learn new skills as required

Those who are adaptable are better placed to accept change and continue to perform well


Broaden comfort zone

Our comfort zones are designed to reduce stress and anxiety. As such, it is our comfort zone that often feels threatened by change. So, incorporating any changes here as quickly as you can is critical


Celebrate wins

When going through periods of change, many focus on the negatives. Instead, try to focus on things that have gone right.


Dealing with change is a lifelong skill

You will experience significant change in periods all through your life. Managing change is a skill many work on throughout their lives.


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