Poor Change Management

Poor organisational change management is a psychosocial hazard. When change is poorly communicated, it can increase workplace stress and lead to workers feeling anxious and uncertain about their work or status. Poorly communicated change can relate to alterations in individual work conditions such as a roster shift or new technology being introduced into the workplace. It can also result to broader team changes such as management deciding to lay-off staff, mergers and acquisitions or corporate restructures. 

HSRs should not be confused by separate obligations under Awards and Agreements to consult around major workplace change. The obligation to consult under the OHS Act must always be met.

A strong union in the workplace with elected HSRs that consult on changes is key to good organizational change management. 

There are some telltale signs that your workplace suffers from poor organisational change management: 

Signs of Poor Organisational Change Management

  • not consulting on changes (e.g. not talking to workers or genuinely considering their views)
  • not thinking about how a change may impact OHS risks or workers’ performance (e.g. not allowing extra time to do things while workers learn a new process)
  • poorly planned changes (e.g. changes are disorganised or do not have a clear goal)
  • changes are poorly communicated (e.g. information about the changes isn’t provided or is unclear), or
  • not enough support for the changes (e.g. not training workers on how to use new tools). 
  • lack of consultation prior to changes
  • insufficient time to transition between changes. 

The key to addressing poor organisational change management is for employers to consult with HSRs and workers properly, for every change being made in the workplace that affects workers health and safety. This includes considering the views of consulted workers and HSRs and communicating in a timely manner to ensure that trust is maintained and that consultation can happen before any changes are made. For more information, see our page on consultation. 

Some other control measures include:

1. Setting up strong systems of communication during change which include:

  • Regular meetings with HSRs and workers.
  • A communication system that keeps workers regularly updated on developments and allows for workers to express their feedback and concerns. 
  • Communicating changes quickly to avoid feelings of job insecurity and prevent the spreading of rumours. 
  • Prioritizing existing staff in any role changes including the movement of casual staff to permanent roles.
  • Communicating clearly what will be required of workers in any role changes. 

2. Making sure your employer provides adequate training and support to ensure that workers have the skills they need to adapt to changes. This can include:

  • training
  • coaching
  • other forms of support to help workers adjust to new roles or responsibilities.

3. Making sure your employer involves workers and HSR's in the change process

  • This includes taking into account the inputs of workers and HSR's well before changes are made.
  • It is a legal requirement under s.35 of the OHS Act.

4. Make sure your employer monitors and evaluates the impacts of change:

  • They should track the impacts of the changes on workers and adjust the changes if needed.

5. Seek external expertise:

  • As an HSR you have the right to seek external assistance from experts. Your employer must also consult experts where necessary and so far as is reasonably practicable when implementing change. Make sure they do this as experts can help the change get implemented in reasonable, fair and efficient ways. 

For resources on how to address poor organisational change management, see: 


Updated July 2023