4. Creating Digital Accessibility Culture
You understand that there will be a significant change in the way the company does business, implementing what you see as a change in the culture of the company. Your employees already understand aspects of accessible customer service with the company’s retail locations, such as ramps connecting floor levels within stores, elevators where stairs are used to move between levels, and checkout counters that accommodate wheelchair users, among other adjustments to “physical spaces.” But, there is little knowledge within the company around issues of “digital accessibility.”
Accommodation for accessibility of physical spaces is less likely to require change in the company’s processes, but digital accessibility quite likely will. It will also involve changes in employee behaviour.
To counter any resistance to the changes that will be needed, you decide to educate yourself on change management. You gather all the information you need for forming arguments that you can use to convince your colleagues, leveraging the business arguments for implementing digital accessibility: these changes are something the company “wants to do” rather than “has to do,” and these changes are good for the company.
So far in this book you have experienced the “business case” for digital accessibility, and you have also been exposed to the legislative reasons behind it. Research suggests that companies who embrace a culture of accessibility are more successful/profitable. However, acceptance of this culture isn’t necessarily easy. One key issue you might experience in fostering a culture of accessibility is ”resistance to change” from some of your employees/colleagues. They may wonder why dedicating resources (people, time, money) to implementing digital accessibility is important and how it will affect them.
People resist change for a number of reasons, most notably, due to fear of the unknown. Not knowing how the change will affect them directly (and to a smaller extent how it affects the company) will cause a number of employees to not readily or willingly accept (at least initially) the proposed changes. Linked with this is the fear of breaking routines, both in how people do their jobs and how it affects their life in general (hours, travel, and technology, etc.).
Resistance to change can occur when workers and management do not agree with the reasons for the change and the advantages and disadvantages of the change process.
Some reasons for resisting change include:
- Self-interest, which can occur when people are more concerned with the implication of the change for themselves rather than considering the effects for the company’s success.
- Misunderstanding, because the purpose of the change has not been communicated effectively or has been interpreted differently.
- Low tolerance to change, because workers prefer having security and stability in their work.
Experience (and research) suggests that the best strategies for minimizing resistance to change is to communicate more effectively, to help people develop the skills/knowledge to handle the proposed changes, and to involve them in designing the changes to be implemented.
In this section of the chapter, you will gain an understanding of some of the reasons why people may resist change which you may encounter in your organization and how to overcome them.
Change is difficult. The more prepared you are to deal with resistance, the better your chances for success in implementing the changes required. Watch this video outlining seven key strategies for overcoming resistance:
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The seven strategies for overcoming change in the workplace follow below:
- Structure the team to maximize its potential.
- Set challenging, achievable, and engaging targets.
- Resolve conflicts quickly and effectively.
- Show passion.
- Be persuasive.
- Empower innovation and creativity.
- Remain positive and supportive.