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ATD Blog

ATD Research Presents Change Enablement: Skills for Addressing Change

Monday, October 1, 2018

Change happens frequently for most organizations, but how do talent development professionals prepare employees across the organization at every level to handle it? And how effective are organizations when it comes to dealing with change? To learn more about how organizations prepare their workforce, ATD Research surveyed 521 participants in their latest report, Change Enablement: Skills for Addressing Change.


An overwhelming 92 percent of organizations have faced change in the last three years; unfortunately, their workforces were not very effective in addressing these changes. In fact, only 19 percent of participants said their workforce was highly effective in addressing change. These findings are disconcerting when taking into account how pervasive change is.

Preparing employees for change is essential and will undoubtedly have benefits for the organization as a whole. For example, nearly seven in 10 participants reported improved employee engagement, while just over half said that it resulted in improved corporate culture. About a third of respondents said training in change-related skills leads to less negative effects on employee well-being, while slightly fewer said there is reduced turnover.

Change enablement isn’t easy, and although there is a plethora of benefits associated with training in skills needed to address change, there are also many challenges. Chief among them is that leaders don’t model the skills and that employees are not held accountable for applying the skills. Other key challenges identified by participants were a lack of resources, the fact that skills aren’t prioritized, and that changes are happening too fast.


Given these challenges, what can be done to improve training in change-related skills? The report offers several recommendations for talent development professionals looking to increase the effectiveness of training in these areas based on the research findings and interviews with subject matter experts.


First, it’s important for TD professionals to plan ahead. In fact, highly effective organizations were significantly more likely to launch training before a change had occurred than organizations low in effectiveness. Of course, this may be easier said than done. If your organization goes through change frequently, it may be useful to implement training throughout the year. According to Jennifer Stanford, CEO of Emergent Performance Solutions and author, “If you’re an organization that goes through change a lot, I think that doing training quarterly is beneficial, even if it’s just a shorter, more pointed training program.”

It’s also a good idea to use a blended approach when it comes to training in change-related skills. Indeed, highly effective organizations were significantly more likely to use a blended approach to training, while those low in effectiveness were more likely to use in-person training as their primary delivery method. It may also be useful to consider using simulations either separately or part of a blended learning approach, as they allow learners to practice new skills in a low-risk, stress-free environment.


Learn More

Members can purchase the full report for $199 ($499 for nonmembers) here. There is also a whitepaper, which is complimentary for ATD members and $19.99 for nonmembers.

Visit the ATD Research page to learn more.

About the Author

Megan Cole is a former ATD research analyst. Her primary responsibilities included creating and programming surveys, cleaning and analyzing data, and writing research reports for publication.

She received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Central Florida and earned a doctorate in communication from Arizona State University. 

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