How to Keep Positive in the Midst of Change at Work


It came, it’s coming and it will come. You can depend on it – that’s for sure. No matter where you work, you will experience it. And that undeniable thing is change.

Let’s be real – we’re not talking about a change in the location of the break-room coffee pot – although that can be VERY unsettling, thank you very much. We’re talking about those developments that can really jumble up your life on the job – a change in leadership, a shift in mission or even an organizational transition.

While change for an office or organization can be good and necessary, it also can be stressful, exhausting and confusing – for everyone involved. In a survey published in 2016 by ComPsych Corporation, the world’s largest provider of employee assistance programs, workers were asked, “When you experience change at work, what is most stressful for you?” This is how participants responded:

  • 31% – Unclear expectations from supervisors
  • 20% – Confusion/conflict between coworkers/departments
  • 18% – Belief that workload will increase or become more difficult
  • 15% – Uncertainty about future/questions about stability of company
  • 13% – New processes/operating rules/skills needed
  • 3% – Other

How do we keep positive when the future is uncertain, and it’s hard to see through the haze? Whether you are going through change now or see it lurking behind the corner, use these tips to keep positive and stay productive during changes at work.

Be a part of the change.
Maybe your agency or office is going through a reorganization, and it’s causing you stress (#pullingouthair #whatisgoingon #wheresmypaperbag). What can be difficult about restructuring is the lack of control you might feel about the situation. This is a great opportunity to inquire how you can be a part of the change process itself. Volunteer to act as a Change Champion for an office move or be a point of contact for your team during an organizational transition. Once you are a part of the action, you might see a break in the clouds of uncertainty.

Connect with a confidant.
It’s nice to talk out your concerns with someone else – especially someone who isn’t involved in the situation. Talk with a person you trust, who will provide perspective and listen without judgment. My husband gets the joy of being this person for me (love you, Honey!). I so appreciate his willingness to hear me and help me see beyond the current circumstance. Being able to share your thoughts out loud in a safe place can make a world of difference to your overall outlook.

Take a step back – and a step out.
Change can feel very personal – especially when you are in the middle of it. Regain balance by stepping away from your desk and stepping outside for a brisk walk. Breathe deeply, gaze at the trees, feel the breeze on your face – ah, nature! In the article The Benefits of a Lunch Hour Walk, we find “… that even gentle lunchtime strolls can perceptibly — and immediately — buoy people’s moods and ability to handle stress at work.” So lace up your tennies, and hit the street!

Post-it in plain view.
Write a Scripture verse, inspirational quote or even a favorite saying from your Mom on a Post-it Note, and stick it to the bottom of your computer screen. When you are feeling stressed, frustrated or anxious about the change going on around you, a few words of wisdom and truth can bring you back to life. Want to take your inspirational notes on the go? Use a Sticky Notes app to post your inspiration virtually. Need a good starter quote? Here’s a favorite from Corrie Ten Boom that gives me perspective: “Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles – it empties today of its strength.”

Try something new.
Looking for new opportunities can be a great way to shake things up and keep you motivated. Offer to help a coworker on a project that interests you. Connect with your supervisor to see what new assignments are available. Check out’s Open Opportunities program for ways you can get connected with other federal employees on projects you are passionate about. Sometimes, the best way to regain perspective is to change what you are looking at.

Final piece of advice – check out the article 10 Tips for Dealing with Change Positively in Your Workplace for other ways to keep positive in the midst of workplace change.

Lacey Scully is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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