Today’s business world is constantly evolving. To keep up with the rapidly shifting environment, companies introduce process changes frequently within their organization to improve performance, and outdo their competition. In this memo, the pros and cons of frequent organizational changes are first investigated. By going through the effectiveness of adopting specific activities and leadership style in communicating changes, we seek to understand employees’ reaction to frequent process changes, and how it affects their work performance and attitude towards the organization. This will allow us to understand if employees learn and get better at change, or does change does irreparable damages.
Pros and cons of frequent organizational changes
When frequent changes are introduced, employees will grow to be accustomed to changes and eventually view it as a company culture. Therefore, whenever there is a change to be implemented, employees will be less resistance to change and accept the change. Employees will learn that changes are meant to improve their work productivity and effectiveness. Using the example of job rotation (Friedrich and Kabst, 1998) between various departments, employees will get accustomed to learning new skills which aim to increase work productivity and effectiveness. When employees are multi-skilled, job satisfaction and productivity increases and they also better understand how their work affects other employees. Employees would also feel that with more skills and knowledge, they are valuable to the company and this gives them a sense of job security.
Once employees accept frequent changes, they are able to learn and use past experience of change to help them cope with stress each time new change is implemented. They can better understand change is necessary and how the change can help them perform better with confidence and increase job satisfaction.
One of the frequent changes organization adopts is due to globalization. Introduction of strategy, structure and processes enable employees to become better in managing effects of globalization. In such instances, employees become adaptable and better in managing the effect of globalization.
Established frequent changes will also encourage change leaders to constantly look for new ways to communicate and implement changes to employees. They can use employee participation, reward management, training and development and motivation which will help to assist employees learn and get better at change.
The above positive effects are expected when employees accept changes, learn from and get better with changes. But in reality, employees are by nature resistant to change, and feel primarily stressful when changes are implemented. If employees are unable to accept change and adapt, stress increases and directly impacts their work performance, mental and physical health, and attitude towards the organization (Poole and Van de Ven, 2004), leading to irreparable damages.
Employees mostly fear that if they are unable to adapt, they may lose their job. This increases stress levels and directly lead to poor work performance by the employees and lowers productivity level for the organization. Using the example of process change, such as automation through the use of machinery, organization aims to improve productivity, maintain or improve quality standard, and reduce costs. However, older employees of the organization will be resistance to use the machines and they fear that they would not be able to learn how to operate them. They would feel compelled to learn and usually take more time to learn, leading to poor work performance and lower productivity level. In the event that the older employees lose their job, previous tacit knowledge and work experience within the retrenched employees may be lost and this represents irreparable damage to the company.
Stress can also lead to health problems such as hypertension and anxiety. When...
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