How to minimise change fatigue

content change

Evidence suggests that many professionals, and finance professionals in particular, are affected by change fatigue, a sense of apathy or resignation at the pressures of unprecedented levels of constant change, with negative effects on performance.

‘The amount of change experienced by employees increased fourfold between 2014 and 2023, with finance one of the functions most affected,’ says Marco D’Ascoli, director – finance research and advisory at Gartner.

The concept strikes a chord with Nas Furqan FCCA, CFO at Licena Group, who likens constant change to spinning plates: ‘It can be overwhelming. Whatever decision a business takes, finance is impacted – whether it’s entering or exiting markets, launching or pulling products, divestments, restructuring, procurement, recruitment, embedding sustainability reporting, or a department implementing a new system, all this comes on top of the day-to-day housekeeping – accounting, bookkeeping, tax, audits, reporting, planning, budgeting, the whole shebang.’

Feeling fatigued, unenthusiastic or overwhelmed are all symptoms of struggling to cope with constant, non-negotiable and unprecedented change. Here are 10 top tips to help you and your team keep change fatigue at bay:

Plan with change fatigue in mind
Gartner recommends considering change fatigue drivers and charting them against project value to reprioritise the project portfolio and so minimise change fatigue.




Prioritise, prioritise, prioritise
‘It’s important to weigh all the asks from the outset and understand each one’s true value,’ says Adriana Carpenter, CFO at expense management specialist Emburse. ‘Doing this enables me and my team to pull forward projects that will give us value with minimal effort, so that we can gain momentum. Getting some quick, easy wins is great for maintaining morale.’

Slow things down
‘Leadership teams that push too much too fast burn people out, so try doing fewer things better,’ says project leadership consultant Tres Roeder. ‘Gauge the bandwidth of your team, and design the breadth and scope of your initiatives accordingly.’

Collaborate across functions
‘When I’ve tackled large digital transformation projects, I’ve always made sure I have my IT team, as well as cross-functional owners of data and operational systems, as key stakeholders. This ensures that, as the CFO, I’m not driving the initiative on my own,’ says Carpenter.

Get ACCA Careers working for you...

Search hundreds of roles from all over the world on ACCA Careers

Sign up for a job alert tailored to your desired location and role

Make everyone part of the process
‘Seek input from diverse perspectives, involve the team in decision-making and let ideas flow,’ says Kraig Kleeman, CEO at Z-Branding. ‘When people feel their voices matter, they become active participants in change, not just passive recipients.’

Be adaptive
‘Beyond schedules and plans, cultivating an adaptive culture is essential,’ Kleeman adds. ‘Encourage innovation, reward flexibility and celebrate small victories. When adaptability becomes ingrained, change is less likely to feel like a seismic shift and more like a routine tremor.’

Foster motivation
‘While better project planning is crucial, a more holistic and psychological approach is needed,’ says business improvement consultant and blogger Myriam Tisler. ‘Intrinsic motivation, the desire to learn and grow, plays a vital role.’

Engage change champions
‘There will be someone in your organisation who’s keen and passionate about the change. They’ll want to step up, and they’ll probably be fine working longer hours, because they’ll generally be young and hungry for new opportunities to grow,’ says D’Ascoli.

Involve the team
‘By inviting collaboration, leaders empower their teams and instill a sense of ownership in the outcome, alleviating feelings of powerlessness,’ says Catherine Fitzgerald, founder at Brass Tacks With Heart.

Lead mindfully
‘Lead with empathy, be visible, and provide clear direction,’ says Kleeman. ‘Show your team that you’re navigating the storm alongside them.’ Furqan adds: ‘Spend as much time as possible with immediate reports to understand their challenges and provide assistance, and let them know they can always ask for help. It’s a leader’s responsibility to ensure everyone stays afloat.’

Amidst it all, it is important to build in recovery time for yourself and focus on your own resilience. Dawid Wiacek, founder of Career Fixer, says: ‘You can’t pour from an empty cup. Schedule breaks, hobbies, exercise, time with loved ones, alone time, staycations, vacations, hobbies, whatever might recharge you. And if you need help, seek it. Too many finance professionals try to remain stoic, but at what cost?’

More information

This article was first published in AB magazine April 2024

Back to listing