Putting people at the heart of transformation

29 Nov 2017

It’s long been said that employees are the biggest asset of any organisation. And while many companies realise the importance of employee engagement, it can be a tricky road to navigate – especially through periods of change or transformation.

Michelle Cock

Head of Change Management

At Lendlease, people are at the heart of everything we do. Last year we transitioned around 2,000 employees from various locations in Sydney to Tower Three, International Towers Sydney at Barangaroo South.

The move also coincided with a transition to a new way of flexible working for employees, which was a significant cultural shift.

Instead of being very structured and rigid as an organisation in the way we work, we’re becoming very flexible and embedding a focus on health and wellbeing for our employees. This has been a significant cultural shift from where we were before.

At Lendlease we are using different strategies to manage employee expectations throughout transformational change. My team is focusing on business led change, such as implementing flexible and dynamic workplace practices to create and sustain a strong organisational culture now and in the years to come.

Transitioning to a new way of working

Lendlease recently moved its international headquarters to Barangaroo South and with that move came a transition to a whole new way of flexible working, which in itself requires a significant cultural shift.

Through our Nextplace team, we have started to undergo this new change journey, introducing flexible working, embedding core ideals such as health and wellbeing into our workplace, as well as providing our employees with new spaces to work in – from open office spaces, to smaller individual cubicles to working from home.

This started in Sydney and is now being rolled out across other regions. Our employee base is made up of employees in our office and then we also have employees working onsite. This shift has bought all of these different groups together to have the opportunity to come into one shared space. We have focused on ensuring our new office is an inclusive, dynamic, open, collaborative and flexible workspace.

Now is the time that our organisation is changing to become more agile and competitive and we are working out the best ways our people can be supported through this.

Cementing employees role in transformation

At Lendlease we have a number of tools and support services available to employees to help them transition. For example, when it comes to flexible learning, we have ‘tech decks’, enabling our employees to get help and assistance when needed with their devices.

When it comes to cultural transformation, we are looking to expand our expertise in the marketplace and to achieve this, we need to support our organisation and our employees to achieve the right level of thinking. Externally, we provide phenomenal design, architecture and construction solutions for our customers, however internally we recognise the need to support our employees in change by making it simple to understand and by providing the right tools to effectively manage and implement identified transformation activities.

Managing employee expectations

The biggest challenge organisations face during transformation is people don’t understand why change has to happen. For Lendlease, our ongoing challenge is getting our employees to understand why we are embarking on transformation and the value it will bring to the organisation. We need to enable them to understand the benefits of why they need to work differently.

We have a number of projects that are running internally which are changing the way people do their day to day work. When you sit down and talk to individuals that have been within the organisation long term, they often question why things need to be done differently. It is important to be transparent and communicate why and how the activities they may have done for a number of years can actually be completed in a more efficient way.

This is a big challenge for any organisation to overcome. For us, it is going to continue to be a challenge as we face more technological advancements. Articulating to people the value these new processes or technologies can have for them, as well as for the organisation, is very important.  In the past, we may have missed opportunities on providing a clearer understanding to our employees as to how change may impact them. Our aim is to change that and take them on the journey with us.

The first step to achieving this is asking: who are our stakeholders? Who are we impacting? Why are we impacting them? Why is it so important for them to understand? How will this change impact their day to day activity?

By undertaking this shift, people are bought into the journey in the very early stages. They will always have questions, and there will always be a few individuals that are resistant to change, but if employees are brought in at the beginning, the organisation has better capability for the transformation to be successful.