Kristen Martin Headshot

Written by Kristen Martin

Kristen is a human capital consultant at Greater Human Capital. Kristen promotes the mission and values of Greater by bringing empathy and an appreciative approach to Human Capital Management. She is specialized in organization development, employee engagement, change management, learning and development, training programming, and performance management. As a former COO and teacher, Kristen’s unique experiences allow her to understand each level of an organization and their unique needs.

After engaging in a discussion with a client, I began contemplating the issues of organizational change and employee resistance in the business world.

Organizations, especially nonprofits striving to keep pace with emerging trends, often crave innovation yet fear big changes, particularly if they are not adequately included in the decision-making process. This leads to a range of emotional responses from team members who may have difficulty stepping out of their comfort zone and embracing new ideas.

In order to effectively drive organizational development, it is important to understand the distinction between innovation and change and the significant role both play in shaping an organization’s trajectory. HR professionals, senior leaders, and people managers should strategically manage the change process and address employee concerns to minimize resistance.

Let’s take a moment to look at the differences between innovation and change:


  • Innovation primarily involves generating and implementing new ideas or processes that stimulate improvement within the organization. 
  • Innovation could involve embracing new technologies or adopting a new approach that enhances value creation, be it through improved revenue, efficiency, or customer satisfaction.


  • Change, conversely, implies modifications to the status quo, which could include a new system, adjusting strategies, or altering existing structures. 
  • Change can range from significant transformations, like organizational restructuring, to more subtle shifts, such as changes to work schedules. 
  • Change can also be reactive, responding to external factors like legal obligations, market forces, or internal dilemmas.

Something to keep in mind: Innovation may spark change, but not all changes are innovative. 

The Interplay between Innovation and Change

Although distinct, innovation and change overlap in several ways. Both necessitate adaptability, contain an element of risk, and call for active engagement from all team members. In the ever-evolving business world, they are indispensable for an organization’s growth and survival.

However, both can trigger fear of the unknown among staff members, particularly those at entry-level positions who may feel insecure due to lack of involvement in decision-making. This fear can be attributed to the anticipation of learning new skills, worries about job security, or just the sheer apprehension towards change.

HR’s Role in Bridging the Gap: Navigating Innovation and Change

Human resource experts, including HR departments and HR professionals, play a crucial part in handling these apprehensions and nurturing an organizational culture that encourages innovation and smoothly adapts to change.

Let’s investigate some of these roles:

Supporting Team Members. In times of change, it’s vital to reassure employees that they are valuable contributors to the organization. HR can provide this support by delivering career counseling, initiating mentorship programs, and equipping employees with resources for skill development.

Effective Change Management. Change management is a systematic approach to transition individuals, teams, and organizations from their current state to a desired future state. It is crucial to decrease employee resistance and operational costs. HR professionals can play an important role in this by aligning change initiatives with the organizational culture, maintaining open lines of communication, and providing appropriate training and support.

Transparent and Timely Communication. It is essential for HR to ensure communication about change or innovation is clear, in a timely manner, and transparent. Explaining the reasons behind the change, its impact on employees, and steps being taken for a smooth transition can help alleviate fear and uncertainty.

Involving Employees in the Change Process. Enabling employee involvement in the change management process and innovation can foster a sense of ownership and commitment. This can take shape in brainstorming sessions, collaborative project management teams, or providing feedback mechanisms. Empowering employees not only offers valuable insights but also contributes to a more engaged and resilient workforce.

While innovation and change can present challenges, they also offer tremendous opportunities for growth and improvement. By understanding the complexities involved and implementing effective change management strategies, organizations can successfully navigate their transformative journey, ensuring all team members feel included, valued, and prepared for the future.

If you’re looking for guidance on how to navigate these complexities and manage organizational change effectively, our team at Greater Human Capital can provide expert assistance. Our seasoned professionals understand the intricate dynamics of change and are equipped to provide the necessary tools and support to facilitate a smooth transition. With Greater Human Capital, you’re not just managing change – you’re mastering it. Contact us at [email protected] to learn more!