Department Relocation

Case Study: Petrochemical Company

Situation
The company’s senior management approved a plan to relocate 100 downtown Chicago-based employees in the Environment, Health and Safety department to the western suburbs. The department was in the midst of many changes, among them completion of a year-long strategy planning process, creating shifts in expectations, focus and organizational structure.

After the move was announced, negative feedback emerged, at least in part due to the multitude of changes facing the department staff and leadership. Among the staff, there was also ongoing diversity concerns about the lack of inclusive decision making and mistrust of management. These kinds of concerns were clearly company-wide and indicated in formal survey results. The survey results documented much negative reaction to the move, and also unrest about how the new strategy would affect jobs within the department.

Solution
A Move Coordination Team was formed to handle aspects of the move and to address all employee issues. The team consisted of representatives from: employee benefits, transportation, wellness, diversity, shared learnings, communications, and move logistics. A cross functional team from administrative, technical and management areas was also established to make certain that employees’ ideas and concerns were heard. An integrated change plan guided the overall project.

The William Bridges transition model of learning to recognize the human and, at times, emotional side of changes, was used in the plan. A communication model using a four-step process: inform (awareness); clarify (understanding); engage (acceptance); and involve (commitment) was also reflected in the plan.

Results

  • Move team’s efforts resulted in clearer understanding among management, supervisors and all other staff of the value of change and transition management from a holistic perspective, containing business, logistical, human and emotional elements.
  • Move team involved all employees for input and feedback on issues of transportation, work space design, and emotional needs and concerns.
  • Integrated communication plan was developed to supply information and to listen to the needs of the employees.

Note: If you would like specific references to the companies that are mentioned, I’d be happy to provide them.

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