Organizational Change and Attitudes Toward It

The Problem and Causes

Problem

The main problem identifiable from the case is individual stress and its negative impact on change at the organizational level. The case also examines the function of organizational dedication as moderation between pressure and workers’ thoughts about organizational transformation. Three types of stress, namely stimulus, response, and stressor-strain approach, can be identified from the case. In the stimulus-based type, stress is considered a condition that is influenced by the environment in which an individual finds himself or herself.

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At work, situations such as work overload, unfair pay, lack of appraisal, job insecurity, and lack of training can create stressful environments in individual employees. The response-based strain model presents stress as a mental rejoinder of individuals to the forces in their surroundings. From the case study, individuals who are repeatedly exposed to overworking, lack of job security, unmerited compensation and benefits, and other stressors in their work environment illustrate the highest resistance to organizational change. The stressor-strain-stress model tackles the interactions that exist between stressors and strain.

For instance, in the case study, occupational stress has a direct effect on the physical health and psychological wellbeing of the affected employees and, ultimately, their commitment to the organization. Therefore, this finding proves that occupational stress can cause strain in the individual employees. As a result, it influences their resistance to change in the status quo (Secord & Beckman, 2009).

Causes

From the case, occupational stressors such as work overload, bad-work relationships, and inequitable disbursement and benefits are seen to trigger employees’ negative attitudes towards change in the organizations. They ultimately result in their resistance and an eventual inhibition of their operational processes in the job settings. Additionally, lack of social support is found to be a very strong predictor of employees’ lack of enthusiasm towards change. Furthermore, for others, job insecurity is a key obstacle that affects the process based on its association with the workers’ organizational commitment. Thus, staff members who feel insecure about their jobs feel that they are less committed to their organization. As a result, they have developed a negative attitude toward change.

How Positive and Negative Attitudes reflect in the Organizational Change

Positive attitudes towards change are vital not only in the achievement of organizational goals but also in the successful implementation of the change. However, according to Beer and Nohria (2000), almost seventy percent of all organizational change initiatives fail mainly because of the high resistance to change by the employees. The high resistance can be associated with occupational pressure and/or unconstructive thoughts about the transformation. Ultimately, negative attitudes by employees affect their morale, performance, and productivity in the organization.

Paper Overview

The paper will review the method used to gather and analyze data from the various participants, including the limitations that the researchers faced throughout the study. In addition, it will look at the importance of this article in regards to both the case and its application to organizations in the UAE. In addition, a probable solution to the case using Lewin’s Model of organizational change will be provided. Lastly, recommendations regarding future practice by organizations, both in the case scenarios and in UAE organizations, will be provided.

Methodology

Data Collection

The study involved 292 employees selected from the various organizations in Greece. The participants were required to provide their personal and demographic data, which included their gender, age, educational background, and marital status. To control/mitigate the order effect, half of the participants were required to fill in the section regarding attitudes to change first, while the rest of the interviewees were required to fill the section on occupational stress first.

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Advantages of using the Questionnaire

The questionnaire method was adopted because of its various advantages, such as:

  1. Its ability to reach large numbers of employees in areas where an organization wants to gather data about the required issue
  2. It is fast because the interviewee takes only a few minutes to fill it.
  3. It can guarantee the anonymity of the participants since interviewees are not allowed to indicate their names on the questionnaire.

Data Analysis

Data analysis was based on measurements of occupational stress, participants’ attitudes towards change, and work satisfaction versus turnover intentions. To measure occupational stress, an ASSET model/tool was used. The ASSET tool has been described as effective for use in the diagnosis of occupational stress, particularly in arriving at the causes of stress and its effects. One particular advantage of the ASSET tool is its applicability to a wide range of occupations. Another advantage of this tool is that the participants can fill it in quickly and with ease (Johnson et al., 2005). To measure thoughts about change, attitudes to change questionnaires (AQCs) were applied through a scale consisting of 29 items, with 14 of them being positive while the rest were negative.

These questions required the interviewees to mark their degree of conformity with every issue based on a five-point ranking machine that span from strongly concurs (one) to strongly oppose (five). Measuring work satisfaction involved asking the respondents to indicate their contentment levels based on a seven-point scale. A value of one indicated a highly dissatisfied employee, while a value of seven indicated a highly satisfied employee. Concerning turnover intentions, a value of one indicated a low likelihood of an employee leaving the organization over the next six months, while a value of seven was indicative of a high likelihood of an employee leaving the organization.

Research Limitations

The major limitation of the study was that all the measures were carried out from similar sources. This situation provided a probability for contamination of the study through common variance. Besides, the questionnaires were self-administered using the paper-and-pencil approach. Hence, the data collection method was often stressing in areas such as behavioral interaction, including communications, goals, and coordination.

Disadvantages of the Questionnaire

The questionnaire method has its share of disadvantages such as:

  1. It is not always taken seriously.
  2. Not everyone understands the questions.
  3. The method does not create commitment or motivation.
  4. The interviewee is at liberty to leave the questionnaire unanswered and/or answer the questions wrongly without considering the seriousness of the information that is being sought.

Importance of the Study for the UAE Companies

Job Security

In this case, the results indicate a positive outlook in regards to the security of jobs because the participants are more willing to put more of their efforts into the change project. Due to the increased privatization of companies in the UAE, employees working in these organizations are likely to develop a negative attitude towards organizational change. According to Sverke, Helgren, and Naswall (2006), this finding is largely attributed to the employees’ worries about the uncertainty lying in the organization’s future. Unfortunately, such feelings may jeopardize the survival of the company as a whole. Therefore, it will be prudent for managers to address this issue to save their organization. Nevertheless, for UAE companies, job security has had a positive impact on organizational change (Sverke et al., 2006).

Social Support (Financial Support)

Based on the findings from the study, people who had an additional monetary backup demonstrated advanced bodily and intellectual fitness levels during traumatic situations. According to Bunk, Janseen, and Vanyperen (1989), social support acts as an important buffer against negative consequences such as leaving the workplace, work overload, lack of job participation, and uncertainty in the future job availability.

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In the UAE, workers are given substantial financial support, which can be reflected in their good living standards. For instance, in 2014, the Western Union announced that it was launching a financial literacy program for its immigrant workers in the UAE. It got support from the Ministry of Labor to develop awareness and important skills in financial management (Prnewswire, 2014).

Unfair Pay and Benefit

From the case study, one can clearly derive that unfair pay and benefits are a major cause of negative attitudes towards organizational change because of a bad work relationship. Armstrong and Brown (2006) assert that without guaranteeing fair pay and benefits among employees within an organization across all demographics, the performance of employees and, more so, their attitudes on organizational change is negatively impacted. Therefore, organizations in the UAE should strive to ensure that the perceptions of fair pay and benefits among its employees are maintained for a positive attitude towards change in the organization to be recorded. Fortunately, most of the UAE workers operate in an environment where salary levels are fairly based on grades, skills, and experience (Sverke et al., 2006).

Training

From the case study, there is a need for employees to feel that they are informed through adequate training by their organization. Addressing this gap is important, especially during a period of organizational change, to reduce the feelings of anxiety and fear that cause resistance to change. Such fear can also affect the effectiveness and efficiency of an organization and ultimately affect the accomplishment of its predetermined goals. The UAE organizations must adapt and cope with change through enhancing the skills of their employees to avoid a drop in the performance of their employees (Umer, 2014). For the case of the UAE organizations, employees are trained based on the performance appraisal and improvement area.

Performance Appraisal

The case reveals that participation in programs of change should be made part of the employees’ performance appraisal. Workers should be rewarded to reinforce a positive attitude towards change. Performance appraisal is a fundamental requirement in the successful implementation of business and human resource policies. However, in the UAE, performance appraisal has been associated with conflicts due to its link to unfair results and rewards. This situation is eminent proof that a performance appraisal program can have a counterproductive effect on an organizational change, as opposed to a positive one.

Problem Solution using Lewin’s Model

Unfreezing Stage

During the unfreezing stage, members of the group tend to become dissatisfied with the current change (Morrison, 2014). Therefore, the goal of this stage is to prepare the employees for a change to reduce the likelihood of resistance and, consequently, a failed attempt to change. Revealing to the employees, the need for change is shocking. This stage involves letting them know that the issue at hand will be better addressed by incorporating new ways of doing their day-to-day organizational operations. The resistance may be enormous for the organization in the case study since it consists of cohesive teams that have a higher likelihood of resisting the change. Hence, during this stage, managers should acquire feedback from the workers through conducting a survey regarding their burning issues, upsets, reasons for their low morale, or negative attitudes towards change. By employing this method, the organization in the case study can manage the opinions of its employees concerning their negative attitudes towards change (Kritsonis, 2005).

Moving Stage

According to Morrison (2014), the moving stage is aimed at moving the changed system to a new equilibrium level. Lewin suggested several important actions that can assist in implementing this process for the case.

  1. Persuasion of employees should be in agreement with the fact that the status quo does not benefit them and that a change would be beneficial to them.
  2. Organizations should encourage workers to view the issue from a new perspective and work together on the quest for change.
  3. They should connect the views of the various groups (from the professional/technical staff to the supervisors and managers) to have a solid, universally befitting result of the change (Kent, 2011).

Refreezing Stage

The refreezing stage entails manipulating the system in a manner that the change becomes a permanent operational component of the organization (Morrison, 2014). One way to achieve this end is to retrain people to boost their confidence and/or eliminate feelings of anxiety and fear that are associated with change. This would ensure that the new values brought about by the change are actually integrated.

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The purpose of this step is to guarantee the stability of the new equilibrium that arises from the change by striking a balance between the forces of drive and restraint. Aligning the employee’s pay/reward systems can increase their commitment since every employee will feel equally recognized by the organization. Hence, workers will be adding extra efforts to their work to gain more rewards and recognition. Therefore, through skill enhancement, the organization from the case study can reinforce the new patterns while reducing the resistance to change by its employees (Kritsonis, 2005).

Summary

Occupational stress and attitudes towards change are a major issue that affects organizational life. The case is an exploration of the linkage between occupational stress and organizational commitment and the attitudes of the employees towards organizational change. In the case study, the ASSET tool provided the participants with an easy time when filling in the answers to the questions. For the attitudes-to-change and work satisfaction questionnaires, the participants were required to fill in the questionnaires based on their ratings of the various represented issues. This strategy provided an easy time for participants and researchers during the whole process.

However, the study failed to comply with affirmative causal explanations due to the lack of application of an experimental or longitudinal methodology. Through the study, the UAE organizations can learn to adopt practices such as fair pay and benefits, good work relationships, job security, training, and performance appraisal to promote positive attitudes of their employees towards change.

Conclusion

The paper recommends Lewins’ model of implementing change by organizations. To apply the concept, organizations should first get feedback regarding concerns, upsets, or opinions from their employees through a survey study. Consequently, they should unfreeze the employees’ negative attitudes towards change. After unfreezing, the management should contact its employees concerning the significance of the change and/or how continuing with the status quo negatively affects them and the organization. Lastly, the organization should refreeze the employees’ attitudes towards the change through proper training to instill confidence while permanently integrating the change into the organizational operations.

Reference List

Armstrong, M., & Brown, D. (2006). Strategic Reward. London: Kogan Page.

Beer, M., & Nohria, N. (2000). Cracking the code of change. Harvard Business Review, 78(2), 133-41.

Bunk, B., Janseen, P., & Vanyperen, N. (1989). Stress and Affiliation Reconsidered: the Effects of Social Support in Stressful and Non-stressful Work Units. Social Behavior, 4(1), 155-175.

Johnson, S., Cooper, C., Cartwright, S., Donald, I., Taylor, P., & Millet, C. (2005). The experience of work‐related stress across occupations. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 20(2), 178-187.

Kent, R. (2011). Unfreeze / Refreeze: A Simple Change Model. Winnipeg, Manitoba: The Mansis Development Corporation.

Kritsonis, A. (2005). Comparison of Change Theories. International Journal of management, Business, and Administration, 8(1), 1-7.

Morrison, M. (2014). Kurt Lewin change theory three step model – unfreeze, change, freeze. Web.

Prnewswire. (2014). Western Union Launches Financial Literacy Program for UAE Migrant Workers with Support from UAE Labor Ministry. Web.

Secord, P., & Backman, C. (2009), Social Psychology. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Sverke, M., Helgren, J., & Naswall, K. (2006). Job insecurity: A literature review. Stockholm: ElandersGotab.

Umer, S. (2014). Impact of Organizational Change on Organizational Performance: a Case study on BURJ BANK. Web.

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