Brave New World: Undertaking a Workplace Restructure

Brave New World: Undertaking a Workplace Restructure


Sometimes the smallest departure from our usual routine is enough to throw us.  Roadworks send your bus on a different route.  You use a different mug because yours is in the dishwasher.  Your favourite pen runs dry and the new one is a different brand…it just doesn’t feel right. If these small, simple changes can make us feel a little off-colour, imagine the impact of an all-encompassing office restructure.

A workplace restructure usually means there will be significant changes to the organisation’s existing positions and processes. Major change usually comes in response to outside pressures, such as changing funding or client needs. Either way, if the workplace doesn’t adapt, any initial success won’t last.

Major restructures that redesign the way a company works will inevitably affect those carrying out that work. And, as an organisation’s best assets are its people, it’s critical to ensure employees are of primary concern when embarking on major change.  For more on this, check out our quick tips with Kerrie Yates. For a more hands-on approach, be sure to register for our upcoming Restructures and Redundancies Workshop, hosted by CCER’s John Ruddell.


Why the change?

The smoothest way to introduce new systems and concepts is to create a clear process of how it’s going to happen from beginning to end.  But before you can even do that, you need to identify the operational need for change – essentially, clearly articulate why it’s necessary.  This is because this is the message you need to relay to staff so they understand the need for the change (which will hopefully therefore increase buy in).  For example, the needs of your client base may have evolved, or new financial arrangements have led to funding pressures that are unsustainable.


What’s changing?

Once you’ve articulated the reason for the change, it’s time to prepare the strategy on what the change will look like, and the effect it will have.  This will underpin your communication with staff.

Drafting this will help an organisation articulate the purpose of making the change, and what the new structure should achieve and look like.  Ideally it should include the reason for the change, timeframe for the restructure the new organisational chart, and the effect of the new structure on staff members

The document should also contain strategies to minimise the impact on employees, especially when the restructure leads to reduced staff numbers or hours.  There are a few ways to do this. You may initiate a freeze in further recruitment, decide not to renew temporary contracts or offer voluntary redundancies.


No-one likes to be told their workplace may need to cut back as a result of a restructure so it’s crucial you anticipate and acknowledge the natural nervousness your employees will feel. But, if you can clearly outline the reasons for the restructure, if you can clearly explain the processes involved, and if you can clearly show that you are doing everything you can to assist your staff, then you’ll give yourself the best chance to not just make substantial change, but to ensure it lasts.




John Ruddell is an employment relations specialist at CCER.  He is hosting the upcoming Restructures and Redundancies Workshop on 9 August.  It’s free for members, to register or to find out more, click here.

For further information or advice, do not hesitate to call CCER’s team of Employment Relations Specialists on 02 9390 5255.

Back to articles