Human Resource Managers’ Role in Organizational Change


Organizational change is a revolutionary process of altering the way an organization operates in an attempt to meet some defined goals and objectives. Change is an inevitable practice in organizations since they have to adjust to dynamic business climates to remain competitive. Organizations have to remain aggressive to seek advantage in contemporary economic fluctuations. Varieties of factors initiate change in an organization. Such factors include socio-political aspects, demographic elements, socioeconomic issues, and technological changes. These factors trigger the implementation of organizational change due to their direct interactive nature with organizations.

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They result in the demand for a change in the operational strategies. Human resource managers may also initiate change because of internal organizational issues such as the eagerness to accomplish performance goals, cost, turnover rates, changing market trends, and customer satisfaction. The purpose of organizational change is to make amendments on the existing processes to accomplish both individual and overall goals of the organization. There is a need to embrace change for organizations to remain relevant to the changing market trends. This research paper reveals how human resource managers help organizations to cope with organizational change.

Overview of the Problem

Organizational change can have antagonistic effects on an employee’s task performance. The process of change involves rigorous adjustments such as reorganization of processes and reassigning of tasks. In most cases, change is met with resistance from the parties that are targeted by the planned change (Fitzgerald & Eijnatten, 2002). Employees perceive reorganization and realignment of tasks as chaos within the organization because change often implies new rules and regulations. According to Judge and Douglas (2009), human resource practices have adverse effects on the achievement of both individual and organizational goals.

Employees develop the paranoia of job insecurity, a situation that deteriorates their motivation. Contrastingly, failure to embrace change poses stern consequences to the operational structure of the organization. A survey conducted by Fitzgerald and Eijnatten (2002) revealed that productivity and quality of products and services had declined by 7 percent in three anonymous companies in Southern California. The authors continue to attest that deterioration of product quality and quantity worsens, especially if managers reject change proposals. Unwillingness to embrace change causes demotivation, reduced self-esteem, absenteeism, and high turnover rates. These employee behaviors lead to less engagement to assigned tasks, deteriorated productivity, poor quality products and services, and limited personal and organizational growth (Judge & Douglas, 2009). As a result, these malpractices attract tarnished organizational reputation and/or reduced loyalty to clients.

Nevertheless, in most cases, individuals and organizations will not accept reorganization and realignment of practices unless the human resource manager executes change through some powerful means to counter their resistance. Assimilation of change becomes a challenging task for human resource managers. Therefore, there is a need for human resource managers to lay down systematic strategies for initiating change before embarking on the process of change (Lau, Kilbourne & Woodman, 2003). These strategies should take into account organizational behavior while at the same time focusing on the immediate organizational response to such change strategies. Human resource managers should predict the potential issues that may arise because of imposing change in an organizational set up.

An organization not only comprises persons, but also other organizational aspects such as information, trends of operation, and interaction of resources. These factors determine the effectiveness of an imposed change within an organizational set up. The work of the human resource manager is to ensure that these aspects strike an operational equilibrium for change to take place without considerable resistance from employees and the organization as a whole (Judge & Douglas, 2009). However, Lau, Kilbourne, and Woodman (2006) reveal that many human resource managers have acknowledged the fact that organizational change makes their jobs more difficult to handle. Organizational change brings with it issues that relate to productivity, job satisfaction, and employee turnover.

Regardless of the various aspects (information, trends of operation, and interaction of resources) that relate to organizational activities, human beings are the most obvious causes of change resistance. Pasmore (2011) reveals that most people have a hard time to come into terms with organizational change. Resistance to change compares directly with employee psychological perceptions to reorganization and realignment of organizational activities.

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Effects of Organizational Change on Turnover Rates

The primary variable of interest to the researcher aims at establishing the effect of organizational change on turnover rates. Turnover is a term that is used with reference to permanent loss or dismissal of employees from the organization. One of the main factors that affect the rate of employee turnover is organizational change. As aforementioned, change leads to reshuffling and reallocation of duties and responsibilities (Pasmore, 2011). The acceptance of change also correlates with employee commitment, motivational levels, and their attitudes towards their performance tasks. According to Judge and Douglas (2009), the levels of employee commitment fall into three psychological categories, namely affective, continuance, and normative dimensions of employee dedication.

The affective dimension defines employee commitment to duty because of their sentimental interest in the organization. They perceive the goals and values of the organization as favorable. The continuance dimension defines a situation whereby employees stick to their jobs due to the fear of the unknown. Employees continue with task performance in paranoia of the consequences that may occur in the event that they quit the job. The normative dimension holds that employees continue with task performance regardless of whatever changes take place in the organization. They believe in doing the right thing for the organization, despite the pain of organizational change. These psychological perspectives determine the acceptance or defiance of change within an organizational set up. Pasmore (2011) concludes that the affective dimension correlates with higher employee turnover rates than the other perspectives in the event of organizational change. He says that reallocation and restructuring of tasks adversely affects employee personal attachment to the organization.

These human management practices lead to conflicts of interest amongst employees. Consequently, employees lose motivation, self-drive towards task performance, and general job dissatisfaction. As a result, they quit employment. This situation leads to reduced workforce to perform the activities of an organization. Further, workload that is subjected to the remaining employees lessens their motivation and willingness to perform extra tasks. If the human resource manager delays recruitment of new employees to replace the lost staff members, there is likelihood of losing more employees because of workload and demotivation (Ruxandra & Camelia, 2013)

Dependent and Independent Variables of Human Resource Practices

The human resource practices are very vital functions for the growth of organizations. A number of dependent and independent variables that influence the activities of every operational structure within an organization govern the effectiveness of human resource managers. The progressive nature of dependent variables relies on the effectiveness and successfulness of the independent variables. The most successful organizations in the globe attain their success through the organization of human resources, which are the superior independent variables in any organizational setting. The main purpose of human resource managers is to influence and/or initiate goal-oriented processes through effective management of human resources. The organization of human resources demands that human resource managers should initiate training programs for their staff members.

Training is the second most important independent variable in human resource management. Shin, Taylor, and Seo (2012) emphasize that training is a significant source of knowledge to managers and other employees, if human resource managers anticipate effective organizational operations. Training provides the required skills, values, and information for employees. Many researchers have revealed that the main cause of failed projects results from inadequately trained or untrained employees. There is likelihood for projects to fail if the human resource manager assigns such responsibility to inexperienced managers.

Therefore, there is the need for human resource managers to ensure the provision of adequate training opportunities to both new and current employees in an effort to maintain excellent production and service teams. As Shin, Taylor, and Seo (2012) reveal, organizations, both large and small, cannot achieve effectiveness and efficiency without qualified staff. The incorporation of competent skills in the production process is important in manipulating the dependent variables in organizations.

Other independent variables emerge from the interaction of human resources within the organization. These include variables such as performance management, management styles, and succession planning (Darshna, 2012). Performance management is a real-time human resource practice that ensures continuous communication between managers and employees in an attempt to understand organizational challenges that can help derive suitable means to alleviate them. It forms an integral part of the human resource management functions. Performance management is a paramount practice that facilitates change management.

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Human resource managers use the results obtained from performance management functions such as performance appraisals to determine the purpose and target of change. Management styles are dependent variables that define leadership practices in an organization. These two variables work hand in hand in the light of the human resource manager (Mohrman & Lawler, 2011). Shin, Taylor, and Seo (2012) reveal that human resource management systems elicit and manipulate the behavior of employees to accept organizational change. Performance management works together with the human resource manager’s leadership styles to effectively define and control the roles and performance of individuals. Dependent variables ensure a suitable climate for organizational change to take place without any considerable resistance.

As aforementioned, dependent variables count on the independent variables for reliability and consistency. According to Mohrman and Lawler (2011), effectiveness and competency are the major dependent variables. Human resource managers need to ensure efficient processes to achieve competitive products. To ensure effectiveness and competency, organizations need to embrace crucial changes in the organization’s functional structures. These changes may include the installation of new technology to improve the speed of production. Organizational effectiveness improves the production process by ensuring the achievement of high quality products and services. Thus, the organization realizes increased competitive advantage in the product market.

Importance of Change to Organizational Performance

Despite the various challenges that human resource managers face in the event of change management, organizational change is an inescapable practice if organizations have to accomplish personal and corporate goals. Organizational change is vital for the overall growth of an organization (Darshna, 2012). Human resource managers are the face of change management. They have to execute change processes in a manner that counters the resistance of junior managers and other employees to ensure effective facilitation of the process of change. Human resource managers initiate change for a number of reasons. Technology is the most known creator of change in the twenty-first century. There is the need for organization to keep up with advancing technology in a bid to develop faster and accurate systems in the process of production (Shin, Taylor, & Seo, 2012).

The adoption of technology in organizations creates new employment and training opportunities. To embrace change, Darshna (2012) recommends that the human resource managers should give the existing employees priority to seize such opportunities. This practice improves the motivation of employees since they get a chance to acquire new knowledge and skills. Employees also get the assurance of possible promotions that emerge from the technological change. Secondly, change is crucial for crisis management. Change management is an importance human resource practice that enables organizations to cope with sudden uncertainties. Organizational processes are prone to economic turbulence. In such times, human resource managers need to design strategic change practices to maintain the functionality of an organization.

Moreover, organizations embrace change as a means of strengthening their organizational culture. Building strong teams requires the human resource manager to establish healthy working relationships amongst managers, employees, and customers. Shin, Taylor, and Seo (2012) agree that a change is undoubtedly necessary for effective interrelationships within and outside organizations. Change is also necessary for organization to cope with the changing economic trends. For instance, an increase in product demand requires human resource managers to increase the rate of production. This increased rate of production may require installation of more production machines and recruitment of new staff members. Installation of more machinery and employment of new employees is a change that enables the organization satisfy economic demands.

Causes of Employee Turnover

The causes of employee turnover remain a standoff to many researchers. Researchers have not yet singled out the specific causes of employee turnover, which can be termed as the reasons for quitting or remaining in an organization (Pasmore, 2011). In general, employee turnover is caused by either internalized or externalized factors. Internalized factors refer to those factors that occur within the organization that tempt employees to leave their current job positions.

Pasmore (2011) further classifies internalized factors into organizational factors and personal characteristics. Factors that relate to organizational functions include employee skills, working conditions, wages, and supervisory roles of managers. Poor working conditions lead to unsafe organizational environment. As a result, employees flee for the sake of protecting their health. In addition, poor or delayed compensation, task overload, strict supervision, and long working hours may force an employee to quit his or her job to seek greener pastures in other organizations. In a survey conducted by Judge and Douglas (2009) to investigate the relationship between employee compensation, amount of work, supervision, and working hours, various conclusions were drawn.

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45 percent of the employees suggested that they prefer a better compensation for less working hours in a bid to maintain the work-family balance. 40 percent of the workers requested more pay for the present working schedule and amount of work while the remaining 15-percent threatened to quit the job unless the human resource manager changes their supervisor.

At the same time, this group (15 percent) asked for an increment in salary and shortened working hours. Human resource managers can also terminate the employment contract of an employee in the event that the employee proves to possess inadequate skills for the assigned task. Incompetence is a prerequisite of failure in organizations that need to accomplish their goals and objectives. For this reason, replacement becomes inevitable to maintain operational standards. Strict and biased supervision may also force employees to leave their current employment. Biased supervision leads to mistrust and misunderstanding amongst employees and their managers (Ruxandra & Camelia, 2013). Personal factors that influence turnover rates include issues that relate to sexual orientation, interest groups, attitude towards assigned duties as well as employment history, career development, and mental capabilities (Fitzgerald & Eijnatten, 2002). These factors correlate directly with employee behavior that leads to job termination or continuation.

On the other hand, externalized factors that occur outside the organizational setting also have a great impact on employee turnover rates. According to Judge and Douglas (2009), these causes of employee turnover closely relate to economic factors. They include government regulations and the labor market. Government regulations influence indirectly employee turnover rates in private organizations. Increased taxation forces human resource managers to cut down costs to compensate the hiking prices of raw products and other production materials. Due to the increased taxes on commodities, dealers also increase the supply prices for goods and services.

For an organization to fit in the unstable economic state, incentives and employee bonus are suspended. Lack of incentives and bonus wages leads to reduced motivation amongst employees. As a result, employees voluntarily quit their work to seek jobs that have better compensation. Secondly, some employees develop fascination on different labor markets. Attractive labor markets lead to distraction of attention and interest to the current job. As a result, employees leave their present jobs to join other labor markets. Employees also renounce their jobs to suit their careers in the labor markets of interest. Consequently, organizations incur increased employee turnover rates.


The process of change is a boundless topic of interest for small and large organizations. Despite the fact that human resource managers initiate change for the betterment of organizations, it takes their energy to convince employees to come into terms with it. The resistance to change varies with the organization, the nature of change, and the prevailing organizational environment in which human resource managers implement the change. Regardless of how change is achieved, human resource managers should always focus the change on the accomplishment of individual and organizational goals. Further research should seek more information on the relationship between change implementation and employee turnover. Researchers should also determine the best methods of initiating change upon taking into account the needs of employees to reduce turnover rates.

Reference List

Darshna, B. (2012). Organizational Change: Pragmatic approaches to Organizational Change Management. Amity Global Business Review, 7(2), 63-67. Web.

Fitzgerald, A., & Eijnatten, M. (2002). Reflections: Chaos in organizational change. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 15(4), 402-11. Web.

Judge, W., & Douglas, T. (2009). Organizational change capacity: the systematic development of a scale. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 22(6), 635-49. Web.

Lau, C., Kilbourne, M., & Woodman R.W. (2003). A shared schema approach to understanding organizational culture change. Research in Organizational Change and Development, 14(3), 225-56. Web.

Mohrman, S., & Lawler, E. (2011). Generating Knowledge That Drives Change. III. Academy of Management Perspectives. 26(1), 41-51. Web.

Pasmore, A. (2011). Tipping the Balance: Overcoming Persistent Problems in Organizational Change. Research in Organizational Change and Development, 15(6), 259-92. Web.

Ruxandra, B., & Camelia, B. (2013). Approaches to Organizational Change Within Modern Companies. USV Annals of Economics & Public Administration, 13(1), 127-34. Web.

Shin, J., Taylor, S., & Seo, M. (2012). Resources for Change: the Relationships of Organizational Inducements and Psychological Resilience to Employees’ Attitudes and Behaviors toward Organizational Change. Academy of Management Journal, 55(3), 727-48. Web.

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