The 5 Reasons why People are Reluctant to Change in the Workplace.

Find out the 5 reasons why people do not want to change in the workplace. As a leader, you have to understand why people behave this way and know the strategies to overcome it. There are a lot of reasons why people do not want to change in the workplace. And we cut it down to five.

Resistance is an often-misunderstood outcome of change. The increasing rate of change, and uninvited changes in the environment, determine an organization’s rise and fall. Being adaptable and flexible to work environment is one of the key traits for being a successful leader. Employee resisting change can be catastrophic in an organization if not dealt with accordingly. This is because he/she might encourage others to do so, which results in undermining your authority or silent insubordination.

If you are a leader and experience some resistance from your team member due to process initiatives, it is best to understand why people behave this way. Here are the 5 reasons why people do not like to change.

1. Reluctance to Lose Control.

The primary cause of resistance is losing control. People are comfortable doing the old procedure, and introducing new ones involves effort in their time. The solution? Clearly define the purpose and their contribution to the new process initiative. Do not just send an email about the new policy and expect your team members to follow it. Understanding why the change is implemented in the first place and how it is aligned with the organization’s goal and strategy.

2. Cognitive Rigidity

These are individuals known by their rigidity and close-mindedness. They might be less willing and less able to adjust to new situations. To reduce cognitive rigidity and enforce flexible thinking, you have to explicitly explain the reason for the change. A one on one session with that individual is helpful to ensure the reason for the process change is understood.

3. Lack of Psychological Resilience

Organizational change can be a stressor, so less resilient individuals may have a lesser ability to cope with change. They may be reluctant to change because change might be to admit past practices were faulty. If this is the case, your strategy in communication is to highlight old ways of operating are no longer effective. Dealing with new levels of complexity requires new ways of thinking and practice. Therefore, change is a must to adapt to changes in the business landscape.

4. Reluctance to give up Habits.

A common characteristic of an individual’s resistance to change. People are just simply lazy. That is it. As a leader, you will be the driving force to explain, engage, and ensure your team member knows the reasons why the change is essential. Make sure to align these reasons based on the company’s strategic business goals and involve them in the process.

5. Lack of creative response from Top Management

Finally, all process change initiatives will only be successful if the clear strategic vision and clear commitment are coming from the top management. It must be a top to the bottom response. Top management must be able to engage and align middle managers with organizational change. And the same must be done from middle managers to team members.


How do you overcome change? There are 3 strategies to deal with resistance.

1. Empathy and Support

A first step in overcoming resistance is to know how people are experiencing change, and this involves a great deal of empathy and support.

2. Communication

Lack of adequate information fuels rumors and gossip. This adds to the anxiety generally associated with change.

3. Participation and Involvement.

This is one of the oldest ad most effective strategies for overcoming resistance. Involve your team members in planning and implementing stage, if possible. Team members can provide diverse information leading to effective innovations.

If you are experiencing some type of resistance among your team member, the practical way of handling is it must be continuous and incremental.

This will decrease the resistance according to research. The 3 strategies (empathy/support, communication, participation/involvement) must be done simultaneously. And, if done correctly, it is a foolproof way to overcome resistance to change in the Workplace.



Waddell, D., Creed, A., Cummings, T. & Worley, C. (2017). Organisational change: development & transformation (10th ed.) South Melbourne, Victoria, Australia: Cengage Learning Australia.


Len Peralta

About the Author

Len Peralta is the creator of LCM Digital Training. Her expertise focuses on entrepreneurship and cross-cultural communication. Follow her on Twitter @AskLenPeralta